Florida starting LB Brenton Cox Jr. dismissed from Gators by Billy Napier, declares for NFL Draft

By OnlyGators.com Staff
October 31, 2022
Florida starting LB Brenton Cox Jr. dismissed from Gators by Billy Napier, declares for NFL Draft

Image Credit: Hannah White, UAA

Florida Gators redshirt junior linebacker Brenton Cox Jr. is no longer a member of the football program. The defender, who transferred from Georgia to Florida before the 2019 season and started all 32 games he played for the Gators across the last three campaigns, was dismissed from the team on Monday.

“Brenton, we’ve kind of decided to move on here. Being a football player at the University of Florida is a privilege. There are certain expectations and standards that come with that,” said Napier, who would not extrapolate on the reason for Cox’s dismissal, preferring to keep it in-house.

“Brenton’s been here in his third year, obviously has done a lot of good things for the University of Florida, and we wish him nothing but the best. Sometimes, you have to make decisions that are in the best interest of the team. And certainly, Brenton, we’re going to do everything we can do to help him with his transition. But it’s as simple as that. We’ve decided to move on.”

Cox exits Florida leading the program with eight tackles for loss and nine quarterback hurries this season. The former five-star prospect also has three sacks on the campaign along with 35 total tackles, good for fifth on the team.

“These are hard things,” Napier added. “… It’s a healthy thing for our team. The important thing to understand here is we make every decision in the best interest of the team.”

As insinuated by Napier, the dismissal of Cox was not based on a single incident but rather an accumulation of situations in which Napier did not believe the linebacker was putting the program first, two sources confirmed to OnlyGators.com.

Following a play during the Florida-Georgia game, Cox was caught on film shoving a Bulldogs player hard after the whistle. Some have referred to this as a “punch,” though there’s no indication that Cox used a fist, and contact was made below the neck.

Addressing his future (and seemingly the aforementioned incident from Saturday), Cox expressed his gratitude to the Gators and their fans, noting that he was surprised by the dismissal. He subsequently declared for the 2023 NFL Draft, moving his focus to playing professional football.

“This football program has helped me to be a productive and positive student athlete on and off the field and I will be forever grateful for that,” he wrote. “Being a part of this program and having the ability to wear the #1 Jersey was an honor and privilege.

“I find it hard to express my disappointment in being dismissed from the team. It is truly a shock. I have always had a competitive spirit. I think sometimes that gets misconstrued. SEC football is a serious endeavor. There is a lot at stake for everyone involved. As I leave the program, 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.”

With Cox now gone, sophomore Antwaun Powell-Ryland Jr. will likely step into the starting role at Jack linebacker with redshirt sophomore Lloyd Summerall III moving into the primary backup role.


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