North Dakota State linebacker Jabril Cox had as good of a freshman season as one could ask for. The Missouri Valley Football Conference Freshman and Newcomer of the Year and HERO Sports FCS Freshman All-American led the Bison defense with 75 tackles and 13 tackles for loss.
From his first game with meaningful reps against Youngstown State where Cox posted eight tackles, three tackles for loss and two sacks, to the end of the season, Cox got better and better.
By the time the national championship game hit, Cox was playing like a fifth-year senior. On a stretch of three straight plays late in the second quarter, Cox sacked James Madison quarterback Bryan Schor for an 11-yard loss, recorded an open-field tackle on Schor and then recovered a forced fumble after a first-down catch and returned it 12 yards to flip the momentum.
The consecutive plays can be seen in the video below:
Easton Stick was named the game's Most Outstanding Player, but Cox's name was written on a lot of ballots in the Toyota Stadium press box.
For how well he played last year, Cox was limited in what he could do. Defensive coordinator Matt Entz told Bison1660 that they could fit the amount of stuff Cox could handle against YSU on a note card. With a year of experience and a better understanding of the playbook, Cox could take his game to an even higher level.
That's a scary thought for the opposition.
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"With my position as Sam (linebacker), I was playing on the slot side of the field," Cox told HERO Sports. "But now, Sam and Will are like mirrors, so I know a couple of positions at Will so if we get flipped around, it's no big deal about me having to go to the other side. I can also play that position."
Cox has had a productive offseason, bulking up while still maintaining his speed from his days as a high school quarterback. He sat down with HERO Sports to discuss that, how he learned from the upperclassmen to put his first national title win in the past and other topics on The Extra Point as part of the FCS Podcast.