ATHENS, Ga. - Jarvis Jones is enamored with the Gators.
Check that. Georgia's redshirt junior outside linebacker becomes enthralled every time he watches alligators and crocodiles on television. Jones is addicted to "Swamp People" on the History Channel, as well as educational programs about the ravenous reptiles on the Discovery Channel.
"Those crocodiles will creep up on wildebeests, and those wildebeests never even see them before they are attacked," Jones said. "It's vicious, and I wish I could be like that as a football player and hit people and get my sacks like that with such power. When they get to their food, they demolish it, and I want to put an emphasis on that this year.
"When I hit someone, I want them to know that I've been there. I want them to feel it."
The 6-foot-3, 241-pounder from Columbus, Ga., did not do a bad job of that last season, racking up 70 tackles, 49 quarterback pressures, 19.5 tackles for loss, 13.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. Jones was a finalist for the Butkus Award as the nation's top linebacker, and he became the first All-American in his initial year of eligibility with the Bulldogs since running back Herschel Walker in 1980.
Jones played at Southern California as a freshman in 2009 and sat out the 2010 season due to NCAA transfer rules, so he was eligible after last year's sensational showing for the NFL draft. That was never an issue, though, as Jones stated throughout last season that he would return and never requested information from the NFL's Draft Advisory Board.
"A lot of people don't look at this, but last year was my first year to play outside linebacker," Jones said. "A lot of stuff I was doing was on athletic ability, but in the NFL, they watch film. You have to have really good technique, and that's why I came back - to better my technique and to become a better student of the game."
With Jones guaranteed to return, a slew of last season's juniors such as nose tackle John Jenkins, cornerback Sanders Commings and safety Bacarri Rambo announced in January that they would be coming back for their senior years.
"Even though Jarvis never put his name out there, he knew that he could have been one of the top picks," senior safety Shawn Williams said, "so it did have an influence on us, because we didn't want to leave him here to do what we came back to do now. It's going to be great this year."
Said coach Mark Richt: "I think if Jarvis had come out and said, 'I'm going to the NFL, and I'll see y'all later,' I don't know if the results would have been the same."
Jones transferred to Georgia in July 2010 and was a scout-team menace that fall. He flourished last season under the direction of coordinator Todd Grantham and expects his progress to continue.
"Coach Grantham likes me to do a lot of stuff according to who we play, so you never know," Jones said. "You just have to be ready for it. I'll be excited to see what he has in mind for me."
When asked about the stay-or-go decision he'll be facing in a few months, Jones smiled and said, "I've got another year. We'll see how this season goes."
Jones coincidentally had his most dominating performance against the Gators last season, sacking quarterback John Brantley four times. He had a career-high 11 tackles in last year's opening loss to Boise State, and he hopes to be even more attacking out of the gate this year.
Just like those creatures he so admires.
"When that quarterback takes a five- or a seven-step drop, I want him to be scared so I can get the ball out or he can make mistakes," he said. "I just love how those things attack. I even had the 'Swamp People' video game on my phone, but I deleted it because they wanted to start charging me for stuff."