Despite a heavy heart, sophomore defensive end Bryan Cox Jr. delivered a breakout performance in Florida’s 10-9 win over Tennessee last weekend.
Inspired by the loss of a close family member, the former St. Thomas Aquinas standout registered three sacks against UT’s inexperienced offensive line – more than doubling his career total in a single game.
“My grandfather [Otis Williams] passed away last week, and I just dedicated this game to him,” Cox said. “He inspired me. I was playing for him and my family.”
Cox’s father, Bryan Sr., played 12 seasons in the NFL, starting his professional career with the Dolphins in 1991.
Florida’s sophomore defensive end struggled to see the field during the team’s tumultuous 2013 season, but Cox Jr. exceled late in the year, sacking eventual Heisman winner Jameis Winston in Florida’s season finale loss to Florida State.
Now, Cox is making the most of his increased opportunities.
“Bryan played a great game on Saturday,” defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin said.
“He’s always a high-motor guy, great energy. A lot of those plays that he made were just because of relentless effort. He plays hard. He’s getting more and more snaps, and I think his production is showing.”
▪ Durkin said the Gators are preparing for two LSU quarterbacks – freshman Brandon Harris and sophomore Anthony Jennings – and expects both to play Saturday (7:30 p.m., SEC Network).
▪ Durkin called sophomore safety Keanu Neal “a fast and violent person with nose for the football.” Neal leads the Gators with three interceptions.
▪ According to Durkin, the defense’s preparation, practice effort and focus has not wavered despite the week’s off-the-field distractions.