Fletcher Cox arrived in Philadelphia today with a stomach virus, the obligatory green number one jersey, a pink shirt and tie and immense confidence.
In his first face-to-face meeting with Philly reporters Cox came off as relatively quiet, but with deep belief in his own ability and he seemed comfortable, at least on day one, with the spotlight.
Cox said he didn't play football until 8th grade – his mother didn't want him to get hurt – but by 10th grade believed he could go to the NFL.
"Coaches were telling me that one day I could be in the NFL and I believed in it and I kept an edge and a chip on my shoulder and kept working hard," said Cox, who also said he was recruited by Alabama, LSU and Auburn but spurned those prestigious programs to stay close to home at Mississippi State.
His work has led him to Philadelphia, where defensive line coach Jim Washburn already sees the potential for great things. The two talked about Cox's potential when the coach worked out the prospect before the draft.
"He told me that he's seen players like me just dominate at that next level," Cox said. In fact, Washburn only needed 20 minutes or so with the defensive tackle to know he liked what he saw.
"'I saw that you can rush the passer,'" Washburn told Cox, according to the player. "I was ready for more, but he kind of eased off me so we just stayed and talked a little bit more."
Obviously the proof won't come until Cox gets on the field, but his first meeting with the media here provided a glimpse of the personality coming to the Eagles, one that will be the subject of intense scrutiny once the post-draft honeymoon ends and practices and games begin.
Cox didn't have the big smile and media-friendly persona of 2010 first round pick Brandon Graham, nor did he have the wounded-bison-surrounded-by-wolves look of last year's camera shy first rounder Danny Watkins. Instead, he seemed quiet, but confident (though college teammate Jamar Chaney said there is more than meets the eye).
If he had stuck with baseball, Cox said, he could have gone pro in that sport, too. An Eagles staffer jokingly asked he if could play for the team's softball squad.
"No softball," Cox deadpanned.
No, the Eagles have much different plans. After the press conference broke up Chaney was speaking to a few reporters. Washburn, nearby, asked Chaney to send a message: when Cox was done with his media session, send him down "to the house of pain," – the coach's name for his office. There, we imagine, the work begins.