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Cole was a four-star recruit and top prospect out of the state of Michigan in 2015, so it seemed like the Wolverines found a future value at receiver. However, he was released from his scholarship after playing in three games as a reserve pass-catcher (one catch for -1 yards). Instead of sitting out a year as a transfer student, he signed with East Mississippi Community College and excelled as a defensive back. Mississippi State kept him in-state, and he redshirted the 2017 season to get his academics in order. Cole started four of five games played as a junior (11 tackles, three for loss, one interception) before an upper-body injury ended his season. He started 12 games in a hybrid safety/linebacker role in 2019 (67 tackles, 7.5 for loss, two sacks, one interception, two pass breakups), choosing not to play in the team's bowl game in order to prepare for the draft.