LAS VEGAS, Nevada — Florida Gators’ edge defender Brenton Cox Jr. is an impressive NFL Draft prospect. He’s strong and physical at the point of attack and has plenty of pass-rush moves that should pique the interest of just about every team, especially the Las Vegas Raiders, and was one of the highest-ranked players at the East-West Shrine Bowl.
However, as great of a player as he is on the field, Cox will have to answer some tough questions from general managers and scouts about what happened off the field during his college career.
After appearing in 13 games as a true freshman for the Georgia Bulldogs, he was dismissed from the team during the summer going into his sophomore year before transferring to Florida. He became an All-SEC performer in Gainsville, but his college career ended early after disagreements with the coaching staff lead to what he described as a mutual decision to part ways and prepare for the draft.
Cox understands the situation he’s in, though, and told Silver and Black Pride that he’s looking forward to showing the league’s decision-makers who he is as a person and how he’s learned from his mistakes. Below is a copy of the transcript of our conversation.
MH: What are you looking to prove this week at the Shrine Bowl?
BC: I’m looking to just show everything outside of football. Show my personality, show how much I’ve grown as a person and as a man. I think that will really help me outside of the one on ones and the team drills and all of that stuff. So I’m here to show it all, more on a personal level.
MH: Are you looking to show leadership or anything like that? What is it specifically that you want to show the coaches and scouts?
BC: Pretty much I’m just an overall great person. Pretty sure the coaches can watch all of the film they want and they can see where I’m at as a player, so I want to show something that’s not on film. You know, leadership qualities and improvement on that, and improving on just talking to different cultures and opening up more.
MH: What has it been like interacting with some of the coaches and some of the other guys here that you’re going to be alongside this week?
BC: It has been great to see all the guys on the same journey I am. We get to see [how] professionals [operate]. Like, we see how the coaches come in every day and pretty much mean business. So, that’s what I’m taking from them and just seeing everything and how everybody interacts with each other.
MH: So when you’re talking with the coaches, I’m sure one question that’s going to come up is what happened at Florida? Can you shed some light on what happened toward the end of your time there?
BC: I definitely think there was just a miscommunication and a misunderstanding. I made the best decision to go ahead with my professional career and you know, move forward.
MH: So it was a mutual decision for you to leave the program early?
BC: Yeah, it was.
MH: Since then, what has been your schedule or daily regimen on how you’ve been preparing for the draft process?
BC: The moment I was dismissed from the team, I went straight to X3 in Fort Meyers, Florida (a performance center that prepares athletes for the NFL combine), and I’m in training every day. ... I’ve been trying to be a pro for a lot longer than other guys, I know that for a fact. You know, just getting up and working on myself as a person first, and then football comes next. I think that’s gonna get me through.
Cox will likely have similar goals during the team interviews at the NFL Combine next month, and where he ends up falling on the draft board in April will be a good indication of how those conversations went.