There probably is no player on the Georgia football team with a more unenviable task than Jordan Jenkins. The 6-foot-3, 246-pound sophomore is being asked to replace the irreplaceable Jarvis Jones at weakside outside linebacker, the Bulldogs’ featured pass-rushing position. Jenkins showed as a freshman he has the potential to do great things. He played his way into a starting role two-thirds into last season and finished with five quarterback sacks, eight tackles for loss and 31 stops.
Q: How much different does it feel being a second-year player?
A: After a year of playing in coach (Todd) Grantham’s defense, I know everything, and I’m not having thoughts of “is this what I’m supposed to do” or “what am I supposed to do on this?” It’s a lot easier, and I feel like it’s going to be easier to play this year not having to worry about the plays and all that other stuff.
Q: The last three seasons the starters at your position, Jarvis Jones and Justin Houston, recorded double-figure sacks. Any pressure to keep that up?
A: I feel a little bit of pressure sometimes. Either I’ll get it and the fans love me, or I won’t and they’ll hate me. (Laughs.) Personally, I’m just trying to play and do what’s needed for the defense. I’m really excited about this season and seeing what it holds for us.
Q: You were a highly touted player coming out of Harris County High. But could you have expected to be holding down such a critical position so early in your career?
A: I’d have to say it’s definitely beyond my expectations. I didn’t think that I’d be in this position, taking over for Jarvis and trying to do great things. Last year I was just thinking I hope I get to play a little bit. So actually getting to play, that shocked me. Now this is just like living a dream pretty much.
Q: What are you doing to make sure you’re at your best?
A: Basically I have to continue to practice and work hard every day, not taking the easy way out and just say, “I’m here.” There are a lot of great players out here. … Jarvis never stopped working, and he always had a never-quit attitude. That’s something that I’m trying to adopt into my career as well.
Q: You guys lost so many experienced players off last year’s team to the NFL. How can the defense avoid a setback?
A: We’ve got a lot of great guys and great talent. Now we’ve just got to get them understanding more about the playbook. … They’re far more advanced than I was when I first came. I’m ready for everybody to have their knowledge up somewhere toward what the old guys had because, if we can get that by Game 1 or two weeks before that, we’ll be ready to play.
Q: Do you feel like Georgia’s defense is being underestimated?
A: I feel like teams just haven’t seen some of the guys we’ve got playing. All they’ve seen is their high school film. But in the two or three months they’ve been here, they’ve changed a lot since high school. Honestly, I’ll give them credit, we’ve lost a lot of guys. But they haven’t seen what these young guys are capable of doing, and that’s what’s going to shock them when we get out there this season.
Q: Any of the young guys standing out to you?
A: I’d say Mr. Floyd (Leonard Floyd) is. Everybody calls him Flo. He’s definitely putting a lot of pressure on the quarterback. To be that tall, he’s pretty quick and smooth. I think he’s going to be pretty good this year. … If I mess around he might even take my spot. … (James) DeLoach has been doing really well, too.
Q: What is preseason training camp like for you guys?
A: A lot less sleep. A lot more (installing schemes). We have two or three installs a day. It’s really a mental thing to get used to. My high school camp was more physical stuff than mental stuff. In college, you can be in shape and as strong as ever, but if you’re not mentally prepared then you’re not going to be able to have a good camp. That’s something I learned last year. Now that I know what to expect, mentally it’s not as challenging as it was last year. But outside of football, we sleep and we watch TV. Any off period we get, I sleep, I’m resting or getting in the cold tub.
Q: Your father, Ronald Jenkins, played college ball at Colorado State. How much does he get involved with your football training?
A: He’s always texting me. He’s my biggest fan and my worst critic. He’s always finding something that I need to do better or something that will help me become a better player. I like having him there because he’s like a second coach for me. He knows his stuff.