Want to attack every day with the latest Georgia football recruiting info? That’s what the Intel will bring at least five days a week. The play sheet for this Monday calls for a major update about 5-star Ohio State commit Brenton Cox.
STOCKBRIDGE, Ga. ― It seems as if Georgia has made up significant ground with one of its few big swing-and-misses for 2018.
That’s 5-star defensive end Brenton Cox.
Cox, it should be noted from the jump, is still committed to Ohio State.
DawgNation sought out Cox in the Stockbridge locker room about 15 minutes after an epic Class AAAAA state quarterfinal between No. 2 Buford and his No. 3 Tigers. Buford rallied in the second half to forge a 20-17 win.
Cox was stunned. He was sad to see his high school playing career expire with that tough elimination loss.
“It still feels like I have practice on Monday,” Cox said. “It is over with. I’m still trying to take on the fact that we lost here in our own house.”
That was harder for Cox to do than deal with the tight ends and double-teams he sees from tackles and the chips from running backs. He can handle those. Cox piled up 18 sacks for his Tigers as a junior.
“Now I just have to get better and get ready for college,” Cox said.
He still plans to enroll early in January. But he now plans official visits to Alabama, Georgia and Ohio State.
Cox was supposed to be at Alabama for an unofficial visit two weeks ago. He chose to visit UGA instead. Was there anything to that trip?
“I don’t know,” Cox said. “I can’t even really say that right now. There is something to it, though. I like the people at Georgia. It is going to be my decision at the end of the day whether I go to Georgia or Ohio State. But right now, it is still Ohio State.”
The first follow-up was to clarify whether Alabama was still in the mix for Cox.
“It is still Alabama in there, too,” he said.
The rest of that conversation will offer hope for DawgNation when it comes to Cox.
How 5-star Brenton Cox feels about UGA
DawgNation reached out to a source last week. That contact said something had changed with Cox and that he could wind up at Georgia. Another contact echoed that sentiment.
“What has changed?” Cox said. “Well, really it is just the players there. The players there that I actually know. Like [UGA freshman] Justin Shaffer. Netori Johnson. I actually know [5-star UGA freshman] Isaiah Wilson. We really connect.
“If I was to go there, then we would try to be like ‘The U’ in the old days. Because everyone knows each other. Everybody decided it was best to stay home and play together. That’s the only big difference now with how I feel about Georgia.”
When Cox visited for the Kentucky game, he hung close with 2019 Georgia commits Rashad Cheney Jr. and Jadon Haselwood. It was clear he has relationships with Bulldogs of the present and the near future.
“We are always together,” Cox said. “We all know everybody. So why not?”
When he chose Ohio State last spring, he had seen a lot from Georgia. That trip for the Kentucky game was somewhere in the range of Cox’s 15th visit to Athens.
The deciding factor proved to be Ohio State defensive line coach Larry Johnson. Cox felt a genuine tug to Columbus because of Johnson’s track record of developing his players for the NFL.
“Coach Larry Johnson keeps me committed to Ohio State right now,” Cox said. “I mean I don’t know the players up there at Ohio State like that. We come from different environments [from the players at UGA] and all. We all come from different stuff. I’ve just seen what coach Larry Johnson has done with some recent defensive ends and other defensive ends. I know he can do that same stuff for me.”
The 5-star recruit said his eventual choice has been weighing on his mind a lot.
“I think about it every day,” Cox said. “It is kind of close. I think about staying at home and going to Georgia or going up to Ohio State. But right now it is still Ohio State but [Georgia] is kind of gaining on them.”
Brenton Cox says he can be developed at Georgia
Why did Cox decide to play for the Buckeyes? Was it that the Buckeyes could develop him better for the NFL? That was perhaps the abridged version of what took place.
“That is still the same [with Ohio State] but I realize that how you develop is really up to you,” Cox said.
The nation’s No. 19 overall prospect pointed to recent UGA standout Leonard Floyd. Floyd was selected in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears.
“Leonard was a top-9 pick and he was at Georgia,” Cox said. “I feel like I could ultimately play that position better than he did if I went there. Because I am bigger. I can take on blocks better at the outside linebacker position.”
Cox rates as the nation’s No. 2 strongside defensive end on the 247Sports composite. Yet he is being recruited to play outside linebacker at Georgia.
The Bulldogs also have commitments from two very impressive options at the OLB position to join the Wolfpack for assistant coach Kevin Sherrer. Adam Anderson and Azeez Ojulari are top-10 recruits for their position groups.
Anderson (Rome, Ga.) is the nation’s No. 2 outside linebacker. Ojulari (Marietta, Ga.) is the nation’s No. 6 weakside defensive end. That said, Cox points to his size and frame. He said he can be a different player from those players.
He’s right at 6-foot-5 on the growth chart. He’s also up to 250 pounds. That’s at least 20 pounds heavier than Anderson and maybe 15 more than Ojulari.
“I feel like you need to hold some weight to play that position,” Cox said. “That was Georgia’s problem even against Auburn. You need the weight. Georgia had a guy in there that weighed maybe 240 pounds, and he couldn’t take on the blocks. Then they put a 270-pound dude at that position, and he couldn’t really surf and get through those blocks and get to the ball fast.
“I feel like I am around that 250-pound range and I can run. I feel like I would eventually be able to play that position as well as or better than anybody.”
Georgia will have a tight class. Tighter than everyone’s first plate at Thanksgiving. But Cox said he feels there will be a scholarship waiting for him at UGA.
“I could come in and play, and a big plus for that is I would be able to come in early compared to those other guys,” Cox said. “That will help me get better faster.”
Does a win on Saturday matter to Brenton Cox?
The fan mentality is that a win against Auburn on Saturday will help the Bulldogs with elite prospects such as Cox.
It will offer up proof positive that Kirby Smart’s program no longer will underachieve on a regular basis. These Bulldogs will play in the big games Ohio State always seems to.
But that’s just the way a fan might look at it. Elite talents such as Cox usually do not carry that mindset.
“It won’t really matter,” Cox said. “Because that’s not the group I’m going to be playing with. I am going to be playing with the younger group. It will matter more to me what the younger guys can do in the future.”
What’s going through his mind?
“This is one of the hardest decisions I have ever made in my life really,” Cox said. “People have been making it seem like if I go to Ohio State that I will be a top-5 [NFL draft] pick. They’ve been making it seem like if I go to Georgia, then I will be a second-round pick. But for me, I just don’t know that.
“For me, it is just the people that I will be playing with kinda make it hard, too. This is just a really hard decision in my life. I will just keep praying on it every day. God will let me know what is the right decision for me.”
He said he’s not sure about his official visit schedule yet. Look for him to plan the rest of his timeline later this week.
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