August 28, 2012

John Jenkins proves his versatility



When Georgia was recruiting senior nose tackle John Jenkins out of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College (Perkinston, Miss.), many thought he would be the missing piece in Todd Grantham's 3-4 schemes.

Few predicted, however, that 6-foot-3 351-pound defender would be so versatile.

In 2011, the Connecticut native saw time as a zero technique in the base 3-4 defense, but he also saw action as a one, two, and three techniques Georgia's nickel package.

He even saw some time as a four and five technique in the base defense later in the year.

"I did it a little bit last year depending on the game situation," said Jenkins. "I'm not as comfortable out there as I am playing a zero technique because the assignments out there are different when you are playing a four or five technique. Regardless, in a game situation, I'm capable of doing it and getting the job done."

According to Jenkins, playing further away from the football isn't a challenge for him physically, but it does add some mental pressure due to increased responsibility.

"When you are a nose, all you really have to do is push the pocket," he said. "Its like this. The further you are away from the ball, the more keys and more assignments you have to worry about. When you are head up on the ball, you don't have to worry about anything but just to push the center back as far as possible and make a play."

Despite the fact Jenkins is the closest defender to the quarterback when he lines up over the center as a nose tackle, he believes sliding to a wider technique gives him a better chance to put pressure on the quarterback.

"I can get to the quarterback from a zero technique or a five technique. Granted, it is easier because the splits are different out there (five technique), so, yeah, if you are looking at it from that standpoint, it is easier. But it can be done either way."

Starting out a nose tackle and taking on double teams almost every play is what Jenkins came to Georgia to do, and he met and possibly exceeded expectations in his first year at UGA.

Jenkins also believe that playing such a physical position has him ready to handle just about anything when it comes to playing on a defensive front.

"Its tough. Me being in the middle, I have to deal with two guys at once. I mean, its tough," said Jenkins. "It really makes a man out of you. Being able to deal with that many pounds and that much force coming at you at once, but it's my job. It is what I was brought here to do. So its no problem."

Although Jenkins is in a position where he is often double and sometimes triple teamed, one would think it would be difficult to put up big time numbers.

Yet the senior lineman had 28 total tackles, six tackles for a loss, three sacks, and an interception in his first year in a new scheme.

While it may seem like he is a natural at getting into the opposing team's backfield, Jenkins believes his ability to make plays comes from one place - coaching.

"I can't really say it is my natural ability to get back there like that," he said. "Football is still new to me. It is just what I have been coached to do. I have faith in my ability as far as my athleticism and the strength that I have. Those are the key weapons I need to be able to complete my job, but I'm going to do what I'm coached to do. I just do it the way Coach (Rodney) Garner tells me to do it. I'm one of those guys that if a coach tells me to do it, I'm going to do it."

The Georgia faithful are undoubtedly thankful for Jenkins production and that he decided to return for his senior year.

The Bulldog linebackers, however, might be even more grateful to have number six playing in front of them for a second season.

"They (linebackers) give me a lot of love. They don't want to deal with those big guys," said Jenkins with a laugh. "I don't mind dealing with them, but they don't want to deal with them. So they show me a lot of love."

With preseason practice drawing to a close last week and game preparation at the forefront, Jenkins just has one thing on his mind at this point.

He just wants to play.

"Man, I'm ready to go," he said. "The only thing I can say is wait until Saturday."

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