Now that outside linebacker Brenton Cox has spent more than a year in Georgia’s football program, you can expect some major improvements for his sophomore season.
Although his debut as a freshman last year wasn’t too shabby.
The 6-foot-4, 245-pounder played in 13 of 14 games, and made his first career start in the Sugar Bowl after D’Andre Walker suffered a season-ending injury.
“He got a lot of opportunity as a freshman,” said Kevin Whitley, who coached Cox at Stockbridge (Ga.) High School. “I felt like if he went there, and he was focused, he would get the opportunity to play early. I think he did what he needed to do. Now that he’s had a taste of it, I’m excited to see what he’ll do for his sophomore year.”
This season, Cox’s biggest challenge might be staying on the field. The “Jack linebacker,” which is a hybrid defensive end and linebacker, might be the most talented position on the team. Cox is battling for the No. 1 spot with Azeez Ojulari and junior-college transfer Jermaine Johnson. Nolan Smith, the nation’s No. 1-rated recruit for 2019, and promising sophomore Adam Anderson are also in the mix.
What does Cox’s coach think about that stack of talent? “I expect Brenton to go and compete at a very high level. That’s why you go to a place like Georgia and the SEC because there are very few times when you’re the only guy at your position on the team who can play. That competition brings out the best in a young man. I believe that Brenton will compete and make Georgia a better team.”
To keep up with the competition, Cox has shown tremendous progress off the field in several areas. For starters, in the weight room.
“I think that’s probably his biggest area of improvement,” Whitley told DawgNation. “In the two years we had him, he was never a really big weight-room guy. But I can tell he’s lifting weights and taking it way more serious off the field.
“Secondly, when you’re the best player on the high school field, it’s really hard to gauge what you need to do to improve. Being around other great players at Georgia, it has forced him to take it to another level.”
Along with the weight-training, Cox has always made nutritional changes to enhance his strength and stamina. “I think the biggest thing for many kids in high school, not just Brenton, is that they are eating out of vending machines too much,” Whitley said. “They’re not eating properly or the number of meals they should have.
“When you combine that with a college nutritional program and lifting weights, you’re just a bigger and strong person all the way around. I really think for Brenton, he looks good. He’s always had the frame. Now he’s filling out his upper body and lower body. Georgia is doing a great job with him.”
Cox got to play much more than expected as a freshman, especially towards the end of the season. Like almost all newcomers, he had his share of bright moments and serious struggles. With one year of SEC football now under his belt, Cox should be more consistent this season.
“We haven’t even seen all that Brenton Cox is capable of,” Whitley said. “He’s has a rare combination of size and speed, and he’s strong. You know, he controls his destiny. I think he realizes that. He has a real good mom that always stays on him to do the best he can do. I’m excited to see what he can do over the next few years.”