Not many graduate transfers are talented enough to send shockwaves through the college football world as soon as they enter the NCAA transfer portal, but North Dakota State Bisons linebacker Jabril Cox is just such a player.
News broke from Rivals early on Monday afternoon that Cox will play his final season of college football somewhere else. Coaches and support staff members from numerous programs immediately followed Cox on Twitter, including Texas linebackers coach Coleman Hutzler and co-offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Herb Hand, along with several members of the support staff.
And it’s not hard to see why Cox immediately becomes the most coveted linebacker in the transfer portal and perhaps one of the most coveted graduate transfers currently on the market at any position — Cox earned freshman All-America honors when he debuted in 2017 and continued on that trajectory over the last two seasons with recognition from numerous publications. The 6’3, 233-pounder also earned MVFC Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2018.
In high school, Cox was a consensus two-star dual-threat quarterback prospect out of south Kansas City with a handful of FCS offers. A two-time captain who also played basketball, Cox played a number of positions during his high school career, including wide receiver, linebacker, safety, and cornerback.
After a redshirt season with the Bison, Cox started eight games and was one of the top freshmen in the FCS, leading North Dakota State with 75 tackles and 13 tackles for loss, along with 4.5 sacks, six quarterback hurries, and three fumble recoveries. As a redshirt sophomore, Cox emerged as a first-team FCS All-American, according to Phil Steele, with 91 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, four sacks, four interceptions, and seven quarterback hurries. In 2019, Cox recorded 92 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, and 5.5 sacks.
With four interceptions, 190 interception return yards, two interception returns for touchdowns, and 12 pass breakups in his career, Cox is a versatile linebacker capable of lining up in coverage on opposing receivers. When tasked with coming downhill against the passing game, he’s recorded 13.5 sacks over his three seasons with at North Dakota State.
So Cox would be a strong fit in the Big 12 and an immediate upgrade over junior Juwan Mitchell and redshirt sophomore Ayodele Adeoye against the passing game due to his athleticism, instincts, and ability to understand opposing route concepts.
As a blitzer, he’s had enough success to make him a credible option in that role at the weakside linebacker position.
Cox is a winner, too — North Dakota State is the top FCS football program, having won the national championship in each of his three seasons. As a result, there’s no doubt that he’ll contribute immediately to the winning culture at whatever program he eventually chooses.
With the need at Texas and evidence of early interest, there’s a solid chance that the Longhorns could eventually emerge as a serious contender for Cox.