Brenton Cox dismissed from team

Brenton Cox dismissed from team

In a surprise move, Florida dismissed fifth-year junior JACK linebacker Brenton Cox from the program, head coach Billy Napier announced Monday during his weekly press conference, though the first-year head coach did not comment on the specifics of what led to the decision.

“Brenton, we kind of decided to move on here,” Napier said. “I think that being a football player at the University of Florida is a privilege there are certainly expectations that come with that. Obviously, he has done a lot of good things for the University of Florida and we wish him nothing but the best but sometimes you have to make decisions in the best interest of the team. With Brenton, we’re certainly going to do everything in our power to help him.”

Cox was extremely effective against then-No. 7 Utah in Florida’s season-opening contest, recording 10 total tackles, including 0.5 tackles for loss, and a quarterback hit. He was named co-SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week as a result.

Cox, who told media before the season that he was aiming to break the Florida single-season sack record and record at least one sack per half, has picked up just two sacks on the season, though he does lead the team with eight tackles for loss through as many games.

Cox was observed throwing punches late in Florida’s 42-20 loss to No. 1 Georgia, though it’s unclear what exactly led to his dismissal from the team.

A former AP All-SEC second team member for his play during the 2020 season, Cox returned to the program this offseason for his fourth season (third playing) with the Gators after starting all 13 games in 2021 at BUCK linebacker in former defensive coordinator Todd Grantham’s defence.

Cox was named to the midseason Lombardi Award Watch List, which is awarded annually to the college football offensive or defensive lineman, who in addition to outstanding performance and ability, best exemplifies the character and discipline of NFL Hall of Fame Head Coach Vince Lombardi.

A former five-star prospect who started his career with Georgia, Cox transferred to Florida prior to the 2019 season.

“It just didn’t work out,” Cox said of leaving Georgia. “Me and coach Smart, we agreed [on the] mutual decision for me to leave and I came here. That’s been the best decision I made so far.”

In Florida’s final game of the 2021 season, Cox registered a program-record and career-high four sacks against Florida State. In Florida’s bowl game against UCF, Cox posted five solo tackles – four of which were tackles for loss – along with a sack and a quarterback hurry against the Knights. He debated entering the NFL Draft rather than undergo another coaching change at Florida, but Cox opted to return under Napier, citing unfinished business at Florida.

“As I return for my redshirt senior season, I promise that I will continue to grow, improve, and not let up,” Cox wrote in his announcement on Twitter. “I look forward to my teammates and I accomplishing our goals on and off the field and making the Gator Nation proud.

“I’m ready to take over the 2022 season and compete for a national championship title. I am excited for us to go after it and give it all we got.”

Cox said in January that the last year was “defined by resilience, commitment, and growth.”

“I underwent surgery in early June to repair a Jones fracture,” he wrote. “Two months later, although I wasn’t fully healed, I insisted that I continue to represent the Gator standard demonstrating excellence, leadership, and tenacity.”

Antwaun Powell-Ryland and Lloyd Summerall are viewed as possible replacements for Cox at the JACK position.

“We’ve been playing a handful of players at this position the entire year,” Napier said. “AP and Lloyd have done a good job all year.”

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