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March 21, 2014

J'Den Cox


(Missouri) (40-2)

Q.  J'Den, congrats on the win.  First off, what's that feel like knowing that you're now one win away from the championship that you've beenseeking?
J'DEN COX:  It feels better than being five wins away at the beginning of the tournament, I can tell you that.  It's a great honor.  And not satisfied with this; you got work to do tomorrow and gotta keep my head on straight.  It's a great feat, but we've got a bigger one to conquer tomorrow.

Q.  Looked like he was able to nearly get a takedown in the first period, got ahold of your leg.  How were you able to fend that off, prevent him from getting the takedown?
J'DEN COX:  Well, honestly, Cody Pae, who now wrestles for Purdue, but wrestled for Fulton, I remember seeing him doing this like flying squirrel thing when the guy had his leg and lifted him up.  I kind of felt like I had to do the same thing, so that kind of popped in my head real quick.
Other than that, it was basically just defend it.  We've been training for guys getting the legs since the beginning of the season, so it was just like defend.  I'm not going to lie, it was pretty nerve‑racking.  It was my first time being here.  I was like, Oh, going after my leg.  And he's strong.  He's a big dude.
But we've been training for that, and we came through.

Q.  Did you hear the M‑I‑Z chants afterward?
J'DEN COX:  Honestly, no.  It was kind of in the moment.  It was fun.  And it was just a great time.

Q.  J'Den, there have been other two freshman that reached this level, but they're usually lighter weights, middle weights.  You're a bigger guy.  How have you been able to do it when you're supposed to be not physically there most, people would not think that yet?
J'DEN COX:  Honestly, I have to say it's a blessing from God.  He blessed me with the ability and the skill level to do what I'm able to do.
But the guys, all my coaches, they prepare me for this every day.  I'm rolling around with‑‑ sad to say, but some of the best guys in the nation in my room every day.  We train together, work together.  And they do whatever they can to push me, to push themselves.  And I think that's also what prepares me in every single way for anyone I'm going to go up against on that mat.

Q.  Your program talks about Tiger‑style wrestling.  In your mind, what is that and how well do you do it?
J'DEN COX:  I think it's more of an attitude.  It's more of a lifestyle, too.  Basically, one, it's one thing, we expect to win.  And it's more than just on the mat.  It's in life in general.  I mean, how we live our lives is a big part of how our success comes on the mat.
I mean, it's a big part of anybody's wrestling career.  How you live off the mat is more important than how you live on it.  When we get on it, we don't have to worry about anything but wrestling.  We've taken care of everything else.  That's the lifestyle that Coach Smith and everybody else has preached into us and that we've bought into and we believe in.  And each one of the guys does their part.  We all do.

Q.  J'Den, you're from Columbia, and I think you committed real early, like a sophomore in high school or something like that, before a lot of people in the country really knew you.  How tough was it to stay at Missouri knowing a lot of people were interested in you?
J'DEN COX:  Well, honestly, I didn't really know that many other people were interested in me.  So it wasn't really hard.  Plus, I kind of saw‑‑ I saw all pros instead of cons going to Mizzou.  I didn't have to try and build a relationship with a head coach or any assistant coach.  I've known the coaching staff there.  I trusted them.  They knew me.  They trusted me.  I've known some of the guys that are in the building right now.
I've known guys like Alan Waters, Mellon, couple other guys on there for a long time.  They were going to be on the team with me for at least two years, so it wasn't like I was going into anything blind.
And also I liked the recruiting class that I saw that was a possibility coming in.  Plus, I really enjoyed having the family aspect behind me and having my mom, my father, my whole family, everybody just behind me and representing my home state.

Q.  J'Den, you said that you like to have fun at tournaments.  Are you having fun?
J'DEN COX:  Yeah.

Q.  What's been your favorite part so far?
J'DEN COX:  My favorite part so far.

Q.  Other than winning.
J'DEN COX:  Other than winning?  I'd have to say probably just hanging out with my teammates at the hotel.  You know, because when we get away from here, honestly we haven't really talked about wrestling that much.  Like I was just a while ago, before we came here for this match, I was talking to Drake, and we were just having a good time watching TV, watching "The Mask" with Jim Carrey in it, and it was an awesome time.  We enjoyed ourselves.
I think that's the biggest thing I've enjoyed is the team aspect of enjoying each other's company and being there for each other.

Q.  You've been in some pretty big events coming up through wrestling Fargo and other things like that.  How does the NCAA Tournament stack up as far as the kind of competition it is?  And are there any things about this event that surprised you a little bit?
J'DEN COX:  I think this tournament definitely outweighs all those tournaments I've been in.  In those tournaments, you might draw a guy that is kind of there just to say, hey, I went to Fargo and stuff, and you might draw that guy.
But here, every guy earned his spot to be here.  That's why they're some of the best in the nation.  They earned their spot and they're fighting to show how good they are, and every match is a battle and every match is a fight, and you have to be prepared for everything.
High school, you know, some matches are there, some matches are not.  You're able to adjust because maybe the kid's not to your caliber.
But this one, everyone's at that same caliber.  Everybody's at that level.  You have to be prepared.  You have to be able to just put yourself in the grind and get through it.

Q.  J'Den, with Drake going wrestling about an hour before you, were you aware of how his match turned out?  And, if so, does that impact your mindset at all going into your match?
J'DEN COX:  Actually, yeah, I watched the whole thing.  And I'll be honest with you, Drake's a really good friend of mine.  He is my captain.  And I told Shane, I was kidding about this, but I always say like‑‑ I always‑‑ when I see Drake, I'm always like, Oh, Captain, My Captain.
But, no, for real, he's the leader of this team.  So whenever he goes down, it's like watching a general go down in a war zone.
It's painful.  Like I almost started crying right there.  I know how bad‑‑ I was in the room every day with this guy.  I know how hard he worked.  I know everything he put into this and how much he wanted it.
And he put everything that he could in that match, so it was really hard to watch that go down, especially he's one of my good friends and he's even a leader.  So it was difficult.

Q.  Tell us about facing Nick Heflin and what kind of match you expect it might be tomorrow tonight.
J'DEN COX:  I guess you're going to have to watch to figure that one out.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you.

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