In two games against the Florida Gators at Jacksonville's EverBank Field, Georgia junior outside linebacker Jarvis Jones has racked up 18 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, seven sacks, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
Might the Jacksonville Jaguars be on the phone ready to discuss NFL draft details?
"I don't know what to say about that," a smiling Jones said following Saturday's 17-9 triumph, "but I think my time is coming one day. Right now I'm just focusing on what we have here."
What Georgia had Saturday was its 6-foot-3, 241-pound defensive menace posting his third performance to remember. Jones earned his first taste of stardom against Florida last season, when he sacked John Brantley four times, and he started strong this season with a Sept. 8 showing at Missouri in which he had an interception and a forced fumble in the fourth quarter.
Yet Saturday was his most impressive display of all, right down to his strip of Florida tight end Jordan Reed inside Georgia's 5-yard line with two minutes remaining. That resulted in a game-sealing fumble that cornerback Sanders Commings recovered in the end zone.
"He targeted the ball and got it out," Bulldogs coach Mark Richt said. "It was very fitting that he was the guy that caused that last fumble."
Jones enters this week's game against Ole Miss with 14 tackles for loss in six contests, an average of 2.33 per game that leads the nation. He compiled 4.5 tackles for loss and three sacks against the Gators, and his 1.42 sacks per game (8.5 in six games) ranks second nationally.
Rated by ESPN analyst Mel Kiper as the top prospect for the 2013 draft, Jones has 22 sacks in 20 career games with the Bulldogs. His numbers would be even more impressive had he not missed this season's Florida Atlantic (strained groin) and Kentucky (sprained ankle) victories with injuries.
"This is a man's game, and you've got to put players like him where the ball is going to be and let him go make plays," defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said. "The guy is unbelievable. He works hard, and he deserves everything he's gotten. When he was out, he prepared in the training room. He prepared in the meeting room, and he prepared on the field.
"That's what you've got to do to be the kind of player he wants to be. The energy he brought to our team ignited more energy, and really good players do that."
Jones was the obvious choice Monday as SEC defensive player of the week and was named among 16 semifinalists for the Chuck Bednarik Award and the Maxwell Award, the latter of which is for the best college player regardless of position. He just wants to stay healthy and continue to have opportunities for which he can take advantage.
"I've been out two or three weeks with injuries here and there, and my teammates have been missing me," Jones said. "I can say whatever on the sideline, but it's different once you get on the field and can be able to lead. For me to get back out there and give them that leadership was very huge for me.
"I just hope we can continue to play like this the rest of the season and just keep challenging each other week in and week out. We should have been playing like this all year."
Odds and ends
Georgia's game next week at Auburn will be televised by ESPN2 with a 7 p.m. EST kickoff. ... The Bulldogs began preparations for Ole Miss on Monday with an hour-long workout. ... Center David Andrews (knee contusion) sat out the practice but has been named a captain for this week's game.
Contact David Paschall at email@example.com or 423-757-6524.
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...
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