Cox emerging this spring

Before he even made it to Gainesville as a freshman, Bryan Cox, Jr. knew he would likely spend his first season of college football taking a redshirt. That got into his head and impacted the way he worked on the practice field. This offseason, the defensive lineman dedicated himself to the playbook and is currently working with the first team defense this spring because of the extra hard work.

Cox still wanted to play as a freshman, but he realized there was a good chance that it wouldn't happen. He did end up taking a redshirt, spending extra time in the weight room and trying to get physically prepared to handle the physicality of the Southeastern Conference.

But his mind still wasn't completely in it. It's hard for some players to stay motivated while serving on the scout team, and Cox admitted to being one of those.

"I already knew I wasn't really going to see the field, so just redshirt me," Bryan Cox said. "I need to get stronger, bigger, gain some more weight."

Going into last season as a redshirt freshman, Cox said he spent extra time in the playbook and wanted to make sure he had zero doubts about what he was doing on the field. That allowed him to play faster and let his instincts take over at his defensive end position.

It was just a taste, at least that's what he calls it. Cox played in eight games last season and finished tied for fourth on the team with two sacks. The mental side impacted him and limited what he was able to do.

"I was kind of nervous out there because it's SEC big ball right here," Cox said. "I was a little bit nervous."

This spring, Cox has been one of the breakout players most talked about by coach Will Muschamp. His emergence at defensive end has allowed Jonathan Bullard to move exclusively to defensive tackle after splitting time between two positions last year.

He has turned heads with his consistent effort. After struggling it during his first season at Florida, Cox has now learned how important is it for him to give complete effort on every snap.

"My relentless effort," Cox said about what sets him apart. "I just try not to stop running no matter what. I try to keep going and never give up on the play. It can always turn completely around. He could break back the other way. Anything could happen."

The coaches aren't the only ones taking notice to his improved play. The other Florida defensive linemen knew they needed a player to set up at the defensive end position opposite of Dante Fowler, and Cox is showing the ability to be that guy.

"He just needs the reps. He's getting them now and showing everybody what he can do," senior defensive tackle Darious Cummings said. "He's always had the high motor, always running to the ball, just always being that guy who shows up on film somewhere, somehow. I feel like now he's getting his chance and he's showing everybody what he can do."

The goal for Cox is to start. The Gators have Fowler locked into one defensive end spot with Bullard, Cummings and Leon Orr likely to see the most snaps at defensive tackle. Cox is the favorite to spot at the other defensive end spot, but he's not getting caught up with the depth chart yet. He wants to give consistent effort and earn an opportunity to play more this season.

"I'm just trying to push for some more playing time," Cox said. "Obviously I want to start," Cox said. "That's the main goal, but if I don't I want to definitely push for some more playing time. I've been moving in the right direction as far as getting more playing time on the field by how I've been playing this spring."

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