When asked recently to assess who performed well in preseason camp, Georgia football coach Mark Richt described the past three weeks for junior outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins as "outstanding."
Jenkins has been productive in his first two seasons with the Bulldogs, but why the "outstanding" tag?
"I guess I've just realized that football isn't forever and that I need to take advantage of my time out there," Jenkins said by phone. "I was looking back at how I practiced and how I played and realized I wasn't straining myself or going as hard as I could go. I did my job, but I don't think I was doing my best, and I've noticed now that I'm a much better practice player.
"I am focusing more now on doing my job and making the play instead of just trying to make the play, because there have been times I took myself out of the play by missing an assignment."
Jenkins and his defensive teammates will debut under new coordinator Jeremy Pruitt on Saturday afternoon when the No. 12 Bulldogs host No. 16 Clemson on ESPN.
A 6-foot-3, 246-pounder from Hamilton, Ga., Jenkins made a splash two years ago as a freshman, making six starts opposite All-American Jarvis Jones and tallying 31 tackles, eight tackles for loss and five sacks. Jenkins did not have the luxury of sneaking up on anybody as a 13-game starter last season, when he had 45 stops, 12 tackles for loss and five sacks.
Jenkins was voted second-team all-conference by SEC coaches last December, but the 24-19 Gator Bowl loss to Nebraska soured what already had been a disappointing season for the defense overall.
"I've been waiting for this season ever since last season ended," Jenkins said. "I think we're going to see the results of all that we've done in the offseason."
It is not uncommon for Georgia's sack specialists to hold a friendly competition each year, and this season will be no different. Opposite outside linebacker Leonard Floyd led the Bulldogs a year ago as a freshman with 6.5 sacks, edging out the six by defensive end Ray Drew, a senior this season, and the six by former defensive lineman Garrison Smith.
A healthy competition between Floyd and Jenkins soon could be in store, but Jenkins believes there will be other candidates.
"Don't forget about [freshman outside linebacker] Lorenzo Carter in that mix, too," Jenkins said. "Everybody is going to be on board in that meeting room. Lorenzo has really worked hard in learning what to do, and I also feel like you can add [redshirt freshman outside linebacker] Davin Bellamy to that list.
"I think we can all make plays that will get people excited."
Odds and ends
The Bulldogs worked out for two hours Monday in full pads. ... The captains for the opener will be quarterback Hutson Mason and center David Andrews on offense, defensive end Sterling Bailey on defense and reserve linebacker Kosta Vavlas on special teams. ... Georgia released its depth chart Monday, which included Tim Kimbrough over Ramik Wilson at inside linebacker and had former Ridgeland standout Devin Bowman as a starting cornerback. ... Junior tailback Keith Marshall to reporters Monday about working this month after tearing his ACL last October: "It's been full-go since day one. Some days it got sore, but I tried to push it as much as I could." ... The Bulldogs picked up their 21st 2015 commitment Monday, from Van Jefferson, a 6-1, 166-pound receiver from Brentwood, Tenn. Jefferson is rated the nation's No. 9 receiver by 247Sports.com, which has Georgia's class ranked third nationally behind Alabama and Texas A&M.
Contact David Paschall at firstname.lastname@example.org 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 ...