With the news that former 5-star OLB Brenton Cox has decided to transfer (or, if you believe Georgia homers, has been dismissed) from UGA the logical question is of course where will he end up. He’ll obvious be heavily coveted, assuming he doesn’t have serious skeletons in his closet, as he’s not only a former bluechip recruit but also comes with a full year of playing experience at the highest level of college football. Last year he played in 13 games for the Dawgs, making 20 tackles including two tackles for loss and one sack. He also started the Sugar Bowl and has 6 tackles in UGA’s loss to Texas.
Cox was ranked as the #23 overall player in the 2018 class by the 247 Sports Composite and at 6’4 245 with elite athleticism is exactly what Pruitt and the Vols are looking for in an OLB. While they are absolutely in the mix for elite edge prospects like BJ Ojulari, Reggie Grimes, and Savell Smalls in the 2020 class, to date they have not succeeded in bringing in a prospect of Cox’s caliber at the position and reasonably believe that it’s a major missing piece to get the Tennessee defense to another level. Again assuming the reasons for his leaving UGA aren’t of the violent/felonious nature, the Vols should be all-in on trying to land him.
The good news is that Tennessee has a major tie with Cox, as Pruitt was Alabama’s lead recruiter for him when he was their Defensive Coordinator. And while he eventually signed with UGA after decommitting from Ohio State, Pruitt got Cox to take an official visit to Alabama in early December right before getting the Tennessee head coaching job and the Tide were thought to be his leader until Pruitt indeed left. Given Pruitt’s reputation as a recruiter whose biggest strength is relationship building, one can assume that he and Cox had formed a pretty strong bond considering where Pruitt had gotten the Tide in that recruitment. It’s also fair to assume that while current Tennessee ILB Coach Kevin Sherrer wasn’t Cox’s lead recruiter while at UGA that he and Cox are also very familiar with one another. OSU could end being a player given Cox’s prior status as a Buckeye commitment, but with Urban Meyer having departed Columbus they might be less of a factor.
Either way, the expectation should be that every national power at least kicks the tires to gauge both the issues surrounding Cox’s departure and then his interest. From there it will either be a quick decision – as some of these things end up being – or knock down drag out fight for an immediate impact player. Tennessee should be a factor here un the latter scenario if it wants to be. Should they land Cox that would go a LONG way towards addressing one of the biggest needs in the 2020 class and he would be penciled in as an instant starter next season. Stay tuned…