Brenton Cox Jr., a rarity in the history of Florida-Georgia games, gets another chance for the Bulldogs

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The annual Florida-Georgia game is a rivalry steeped in pride, passion and history.

AND Brenton Cox Jr. made history in the game in recent years — from both sides.

Cox and his family grew up in Georgia and was a rookie for the Bulldogs in 2018 and previously played for the Dawgs. The game still raises questions for Cox, who transferred to Florida in 2019 and is set to play in his fourth Florida-Georgia game on Saturday when the Gators and Bulldogs meet again in Jacksonville.

Playful banter remains in his family about who scolds whom.

“Like my dad says he’s a Florida fan, but he’s been a Georgia fan for 18 years,” Cox said. “If he’s lying to me, I don’t know.”

Family jokes aside, Cox means business Saturday against the No. 1 Bulldogs.

“I want to play the best game of my career – always – whether it’s Georgia or another team,” he said. “As for the team, we are working hard this week, the communication is better and we want to give them a chance.”

Brenton Cox Jr.  - Football - Thursday, July 21, 2022 in Gainesville, Florida / UAA Communications photo
Brenton Cox Jr. is a rarity in the rich history of the Florida-Georgia game — he played for both schools in the game. (Photo: Casey Cohrs/UAA communication)

Cox knows the key is to contain Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett, who energetically led the Bulldogs to an undefeated season. Bennett has passed for 2,033 yards, seven touchdowns and just one interception in seven games and is 21-3 in his career as a starter at Georgia.

For a Gators defense coming off a game in which LSU’s Jayden Daniels passed for 349 yards, it’s no secret what they need to do to try to knock Bennett off his game.

You must stay in your busy lane. That’s the most important factor,” Cox said.

Cox has become the most likely player in the Orange & Blue to put pressure on Bennett. Cox leads the Gators with eight tackles for loss and is tied Princely Umanmielen for team lead in sacks (two). Cox has been a disruptive force for opposing offenses all season, lacking in sacks but racking up eight quarterback hurries.

He displayed the ability that made him a five-star recruit out of Stockbridge (Ga.) High. After his season at Georgia didn’t work out, he transferred to Florida and began his long journey back. He played for the Bulldogs in their 36-17 win over Florida in 2018 and then was on the winning side two years later as Florida beat Georgia 44-28. Cox is a rarity in that he played for both schools in the rivalry.

“I was kind of beat up coming out of Georgia and trying to get into the rotation there,” Cox said of sitting out the 2019 season due to NCAA transfer rules at the time. “When I came here, it gave me some time to recover and understand the game better.

The fifth year has undoubtedly developed its game.

Once he returned to the field in 2020, he played in eight games and recorded 24 tackles, with two sacks and six tackles for loss. In the 2021 season, Cox nearly doubled his tackles, recording 41 tackles, 8.5 sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss.

Through seven games this season, Cox has 33 tackles.

The veteran has a message for the younger players on the UF defense, with the Bulldogs on the horizon.

“I’m just telling them to keep the attitude,” Cox said. “It’s a big game.

Both orange and blue and red and black will flood TIAA Bank Field on Saturday. Gators will chew and Dawgs will bark.

Meanwhile, the Georgia native is fully aware of what to expect from the Georgian side of the stadium.

“The whole fan base knows me and wants us down,” Cox said. “All you can do is take it in stride and move on, that’s all. We are the underdogs. Obviously, they’re the No. 1 team for a reason.”

In what is expected to be the final game between Florida and Georgia, Cox plans to leave everything he has on the field. He expects the same from his teammates.

“We’re ready to play and we’re ready to play hard,” he said.



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