He did it for Otis.
Bryan Cox, Jr. didn't show up to Florida's team hotel until 10:30 p.m. on Friday night in Knoxville — typically the sort of big road trip no-no that is followed by being sent home, or deactivated for Saturday's game.
But Cox had a compelling reason to make the trip to Knoxville on his own, and apart from the rest of the Gators: His grandfather, Otis Williams, passed away this week, and he'd left the Gators on Thursday to be with his family, attending a wake for Williams on Thursday and his funeral on Friday.
Cox pointed to the sky after every play he made on Saturday against Tennessee.
This game goes to my grandfather who passed away earlier this week. I know he was looking down on me and with me every play. #RipOtis
And he had several opportunities. The redshirt sophomore led Florida with three sacks, a career-high, and had five solo tackles; he was a key part of a relentless Gators rush that stymied Tennessee's running game and pressured Justin Worley into the worst Saturday of his season. With the Vols focused on Dante Fowler, Jr. — to the point that the SEC Network's Maria Taylor mentioned pregame that Tennessee was looking for him on every play, then reported after halftime that Butch Jones reinforced that concept to his team — Cox made plays off the edge against a weak Tennessee line.
Cox had this to say to Florida radio broadcast reporter Brady Ackerman after the game:
"Well, honestly, uh, my grandfather passed away this past week, and I just got back from a funeral last night at 10:30 (p.m.). And I just dedicate it all to him, man. It was just all God. And he was with me today. And I just wanted to come out and show people what I had and dedicate this game to him."
Cox also told reporters he never considered not playing in Saturday's game: "It never crossed my mind at all. I love this game, and I felt like he would want me to play this game. There was none of that at all."
And if Cox is right about his grandfather's wishes — which, surely, he is — then a certain new arrival upstairs was probably nodding back every time his grandson pointed skyward.
He made Otis proud.