Florida coach Billy Napier announced Monday that veteran starting linebacker Brenton Cox Jr. has been dismissed from the team, marking a significant blow to the Gators defense. A redshirt junior, Cox started all 32 games that he played during his career with the Gators.
"Brenton, we've kind of decided to move on here," said Napier. "Being a football player at the University of Florida is a privilege. There's certain expectations and standards that come with that. Brenton [was] 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."
The loss is huge for a Florida team that currently sits at 4-4 (1-4 SEC) and sixth in the SEC East. Cox leads the Gators with nine quarterback hurries and eight tackles for loss, and he is tied for second with two sacks. He has been one of the most consistent defensive players for the Gators during his career, starting all 13 games at BUCK last year and notching team highs in TFL (14.5) and sacks (8.5).
Cox was listed as Florida's starter at JACK on the depth chart released Monday, with sophomore Antwaun Powell-Ryland Jr. is listed as his backup. Powell-Ryland has 11 tackles, one tackle for loss and three quarterback hurries in eight games. Redshirt sophomore Lloyd Summerall III, who has seven game appearances, could also be an option to replace Cox.
The former five-star prospect and No. 23 overall player in the Class of 2018 from Stockbridge (Georgia) High School initially signed with Georgia. He had 20 tackles -- two of which were for a loss -- in 11 games with the Bulldogs in 2018.
Florida will travel to College Station to take on Texas A&M (3-5, 1-4 SEC) on Saturday at noon ET.