Best of luck to Brenton Cox as he looks to continue his football career elsewhere. (Photo credit: Getty Images)
Florida fans have seen the writing on the wall for some time now: Billy Napier is going to orchestrate a complete roster overhaul.
It appears as though Florida’s 42-20 loss to Georgia helped Napier step on the gas pedal.
Florida defensive end/linebacker hybrid Brenton Cox has been kicked off the team. The news was first reported by On3’s Zach Abolverdi before being confirmed by additional outlets. A few minutes after the news made the rounds on social media, Billy Napier himself confirmed it in his press conference with a very telling line: “this was a healthy thing for our team.”
“Brenton, we’ve kind of decided to move on here,” stated Napier in the press conference. “Being a football player at the University of Florida is a privilege. There are certain expectations and standards that come with that. Brenton is in his third year here, obviously he 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.”
Oh, but it gets weirder. Way weirder.
Florida safety Trey Dean- who, to his credit, played an overall solid game on Saturday against Georgia- chose to quote tweet Zach Abolverdi’s tweet breaking the news with three words, all in caps: “THIS IS FALSE.” Less than ten minutes later, the tweet was gone, and now we can only wonder what went on through his mind to lead him to tweet it. (Most likely: Dean saw Abolverdi break the news, didn’t do his own research with all the info he has at his disposal within the program, tweeted what he tweeted, was then informed he was wrong, and swiftly deleted it.)
Suffice to say, I cannot imagine the Florida staff will react kindly to that tweet.
But Trey Dean’s adventure is the clear undercard of the morning. The bigger issue at hand is the dismissal of Brenton Cox, a phenomenally talented player with the same type of problem that his former coach, Dan Mullen had- he picked and chose when he wanted to display that talent.
When Brenton Cox wanted to be, he was an absolutely dynamic piece of this Gator defense- as we all thought he could be. He’s fast, strong, and not afraid to get physical and deliver heavy hits. He could, to be certain, make big things happen; see his four sacks against FSU last season as evidence. And sometimes, those “things” that happened were beneficial to the other team, most notably last year against Georgia when he chased Stetson Bennett out of the pocket and then suddenly gave up his pursuit, allowing Bennett to not only escape a critical sack, but pick up 25 yards.
I don’t feel the need to give a microphone to every rumor that’s flying around out there about what led to Cox’s dismissal, but his on-again-off-again efforts on the football field are motivation enough to boot him. For someone to be on scholarship, and pick and choose when they try their hardest is, believe it or not, grounds for dismissal. Can’t have that. Not when you’re trying to build a culture.
And Napier’s line in the press conference about how his dismissal was “a healthy thing for our team” strongly insinuates, if not outright tells us, that Cox was presenting problems off the field, too. You don’t use words like “healthy” or “unhealthy” to describe a player’s dismissal if he was a positive influence in the locker room, or even just not an outright bad one. Clearly, Napier witnessed enough of something from Brenton Cox that he didn’t like, and made a business decision.
There’s no ill will toward Brenton Cox from me. I wish him well moving on, and sincerely hope he wakes up, grows up, and makes something positive of his life. If, one day, Scott Hanson on NFL RedZone yells into the camera, “what a play by Brenton Cox!” I’ll give him some genuine applause.
But football is about more than just natural talent. This is why raw star rankings and ratings aren’t everything. And that’s why Napier has always said that recruiting begins with the evaluation process.
Now it’s clear that Napier has evaluated the situation with Brenton Cox, and determined that it would be best for his program if Brenton Cox was no longer on it.