Brenton Cox off Florida Gators football team

Billy Napier: Decision was a “healthy thing for our team.”
Florida Gators linebacker Brenton Cox has led the team in tackles for loss.
Florida Gators linebacker Brenton Cox has led the team in tackles for loss. [ JEFFEREE WOO | Times ]
Published Oct. 31, 2022|Updated Nov. 1, 2022

The Florida Gators have dismissed top pass rusher Brenton Cox from the team, coach Billy Napier said Monday.

“I think that being a football player at the University of Florida is a privilege, right?” Napier said in his weekly news conference. “There’s certain expectations and standards that come with that.”

Napier declined to share specifics of what expectations and standards the redshirt junior did not meet. Cox appeared to throw a punch during Saturday’s loss to No. 1 Georgia, but Napier said he was unaware of that. Napier said the decision was based on “more of a cumulative effect.”

Related: The fourth-down failures that show the gap between Florida Gators, Georgia

“These are hard things, right?” Napier said. “... I think that we want to do what we can do to help Brenton going forward, but I think it’s a healthy thing for our team. The important thing to understand here is we make every decision in the best interests of the team.”

Cox wrote in a social media post that he is declaring for the 2023 NFL draft.

The 6-foot-3, 252-pound Georgia native was one of UF’s most talented defensive players and one of the only five-star talents coach Dan Mullen acquired. Cox initially signed with Georgia but transferred to Florida in 2019.

Brenton Cox started 33 games for the Florida Gators.
Brenton Cox started 33 games for the Florida Gators. [ JEFFEREE WOO | Times ]

Cox started all 33 games during his UF career, notably recording four sacks in last year’s win over Florida State. He led the 2022 Gators with eight tackles for a loss and nine quarterback hurries. He also had 35 tackles and two sacks.

Cox wrote wrote that his dismissal was “truly a shock.”

“I want the Gator faithful to know my goal every Saturday was to contribute to a winning effort and that my mindset has always been focused on making my team and teammates better,” Cox wrote.

His departure is a hit to a pass rush that has recorded only 13 sacks (tied for 97th in the country) and a third-down defense that is on pace to be the worst, by far, in program history. Linebackers Antwaun Powell-Ryland and Lloyd Summerall are among the players who could see more playing time going forward.

Related: Florida Gators vs. Georgia shows there are no shortcuts for Billy Napier

“It definitely sends a strong message throughout the locker room,” defensive back Jaydon Hill said.

Cox’s departure is expected to be the first of many for the Gators as Napier looks to rebuild the roster after his first season.

On3 first reported the news.

Kickoff updates

TV and kickoff information for the Nov. 12 games were announced Monday:

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UCF at Tulane: 3:30, ESPN2/ESPNU

Miami at Georgia Tech: 3:30, regional coverage

South Carolina at Florida: 4 p.m., SEC Network

Florida State at Syracuse: 8 p.m., ACC Network

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