ATHENS — Georgia football coach Kirby Smart shrugged off the departure of former Bulldogs outside linebacker Brenton Cox on Saturday.
“Concerns? I don’t know about that,” Smart said, asked about Cox leaving the program to go to rival Florida. “Brenton chose to withdraw from the University of Georgia and go into the portal, he’s now at another SEC institution.
“We wish him nothing but the best and we appreciate his contributions while he was here.”
There have been eight UGA players to transfer out of the program this summer, including three former 5-star prospects in Cox, Justin Fields and Deangelo Gibbs.
The Bulldogs have 21 players remaining on their roster who earned a 5-star ranking from at least one recruiting service, including 14 from the universally recognized 247Sports Composite.
Sophomore Azeez Olujari passed Cox on the depth chart in spring drills. Cox’s role was further cast in doubt when Georgia added the No 1 prospect in the nation Nolan Smith and the top-rated JUCO transfer Jermaine Johnson at his position.
Both Smith and Johnson were early enrollees, and Smart raved about their performances in spring drills.
“I wish were were that deep at all our positions,” Smart said on Saturday.
Cox showed up on the Florida football roster on Friday, less than a week after signing autographs at the Bulldogs Fan Day on Aug. 3 and entering the transfer portal last Monday.
A former 5-star recruit from Stockbridge, Ga., Cox was due to serve at least a one-game suspension this season after being arrested in April for misdemeanor marijuana possession.
The illegal substance was found in the Rooker Hall dorm suite shared by Cox and linebacker Robert Beal.
“Multiple portions of loose marijuana” were found in an Outback Steakhouse bag next to the door, and more portions of marijuana were found in a purple Allstate Sugar Bowl box on a small dresser in Cox’s room, according to a police report.
Smart, dealing with six arrests in six weeks at the time, took a hard stance.
“They have to learn as young men that you can’t break the rules, you can’t break the law,” Smart said at the time.
“Obviously our guys have not done a good job of that, and that all falls on me, and we’re going to do a great job of moving forward to get these guys in the right place to make the right decisions.”
Pictures emerged of Beal and Cox were running stadium stairs at the Bulldogs’ next spring scrimmage.
Cox appeared in 13 of the Bulldogs’ 14 games last season. Cox drew his first career start in the Sugar Bowl, making a career-high six tackles in a 28-21 loss to Texas.
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