It was reported today that Kirby Smart has asked Brenton Cox to take his talents elsewhere. Cox, a five-star pass rusher who was a member of Georgia’s impressive 2018 recruiting haul had previously been arrested for “marijuana possession of less than an ounce” back on April, 20th. No official word has come down from the athletic department as to the final cause of Cox’s dismissal at this time, but he had entered into the transfer portal as of Monday. Before the news broke, first-year defensive coordinator Dan Lanning met with the media today and was asked what Cox’s role might look like this season. Lanning tellingly answered, “That’s a good question. I would leave that up to Coach Smart at this time.”
What Cox’s Dismissal Means
Well, probably not a whole lot. Instead of having 21 of the 25 five-star recruits in the SEC East, Georgia now has 20 of 24. The talent gap is still large between the Dawgs and everyone else in the division.
Cox undoubtedly possesses immense talent as his consensus five-star rating two years ago indicated. However, Georgia has recruited outside linebackers better than any team in the nation since Kirby Smart’s arrival. Adam Anderson was a five-star OLB in the same class as Cox and got some experience down the stretch last season along with redshirt sophomore Robert Beal Jr. Early enrollee Nolan Smith was the #1 player in the country in this past recruiting cycle, and was joined early in Athens by four-star Rian Davis and Jermaine Johnson.
Georgia was way beyond well-prepared for some attrition at the position, and the staff should have plenty of chances to try out the young backers against Vanderbilt, Murray State, and Arkansas State before Notre Dame comes to town on September, 21st.
Again, Cox was arrested in April with fellow outside linebacker Robert Beal Jr. After the arrest he tweeted, “Some of us are facing obstacles in life that others are making harder. My life different.” While it’s unknown what obstacles he was referring to, the tweet didn’t show the remorse and desire for redemption by staying out of trouble that we’ve seen from other high-profile players after similar incidents in the past. Cox was also involved in a shoving match with D’Andre Walker during the Middle-Tennessee State game last season. Afterwards, Smart called it “tough love” and said it had to do with him not closing down contain on certain running plays.
The motto for this Georgia team through the summer and start of fall camp has been “do more.” After the flat performance in a loss to Texas in the Sugar Bowl, it seems likely that Kirby and Co. realized they needed to revamp the team’s attitude and cohesiveness before trying to make a run at a title in 2019. Perhaps Cox wasn’t willing to do the little things and the staff felt cutting Cox loose would be addition by subtraction. It’s also possible there was another disciplinary issue that we don’t know about yet. Then again, maybe we won’t get clear details on why.
Either way, we hope Cox finds some resolution for the “obstacles” he eluded to in April. With his physical gifts and five-star shine, it should be interesting to watch how his transfer options play out.