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Football notes: Mississippi St.'s Cox going pro

Star tackle projects as high-round pick

Mississippi State defensive tackle Fletcher Cox is skipping his senior season and declaring for the NFL draft. Cox is considered one of the country’s best defensive line prospects and is projected by NFL evaluators as a second-round pick, although some analysts believe he could be selected late in the first round.

Cox, who is 6 feet 4 inches, 295 pounds, was the only player from Mississippi State to be a first-team all-Southeastern Conference selection this season. Cox, a third-year junior, finished a dominant season with 14 1/2 tackles for loss and five sacks.

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Cox played both defensive tackle and defensive end at Mississippi State but said he expected to be evaluated as a tackle by NFL teams. ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay has Cox ranked as the 20th best player in the draft and the second best defensive tackle available behind Penn State’s Devon Still.

Burfict entering draft

Arizona State linebacker Vontaze Burfict will skip his senior season and make himself eligible for the draft, too. Burfict thanked his coaches and professors and added he plans to return to school in the future to get his degree. The 6-3 Burfict was the Sun Devils’ second-leading tackler this season with 69, including seven for losses. He also had an interception and fumble recovery. But Burfict was supposed to be one of the Pac-12’s most dominant defensive players this year and coach Dennis Erickson described the linebacker’s season as “average.’’ . . . Rutgers junior receiver Mohamed Sanu will also turn pro after a breakout season with the Scarlet Knights. Sanu, who shattered both Big East and Rutgers season records for receptions this season, finished the year with 115 catches, 1,206 yards and seven touchdowns. The 6-2, 215-pound Sanu is a potential first-round pick, although a deep receiver class became a little deeper Monday, after Oklahoma State’s Justin Blackmon declared for the draft following the Fiesta Bowl.

Arnett will transfer

Tennessee coach Derek Dooley said he’s willing to allow freshman wide receiver DeAnthony Arnett to transfer to either Michigan State or Michigan to be close to his ailing father. Dooley had come under fire from fans for initially holding the Saginaw, Mich., native to the same policy he applies to any player seeking a transfer. That policy is to limit players from transferring to schools the Volunteers either play or compete against for recruits. Dooley said after having “one-on-one dialogue’’ with Arnett in recent days he feels comfortable offering an exception . . . Kansas coach Charlie Weis tapped into his connections to Notre Dame and hired Rob Ianello as the Jayhawks’ wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator. Ianello was fired in November after going 2-22 in two seasons at Akron. Before that, he spent five seasons as an assistant under Weis in South Bend . . . Former North Carolina State coach Chuck Amato was named Akron’s new defensive coordinator and associate head coach . . . Indiana hired former Arizona offensive coordinator Seth Littrell for the same position.

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