Jenkins Feeling Healthier

Jelani Jenkins has been battling the same opponent all season long. Injuries have plagued Florida's linebacker from the tips of his fingers to the depths of his hamstrings. While his body was pestered with pain on the sidelines for the early chunk of the season, freezing the junior in on-field production, the latter half of the season is looking brighter — and healthier.

Against Tennessee and Kentucky, Jenkins was nestled away from play with a thumb fracture stemming from the Florida's contest against Texas A&M on Sept. 8. He underwent surgery two days later.

Less than a month after surgery, live play looked hopeful for Jenkins and he returned to competition against LSU. However, his lights were dimmed once again — this time, at the clutches of the Tigers. In the second quarter, the linebacker exited the game with the pains of a left hamstring injury — a compliment to the cast already on his thumb.

But with three regular season games for the Gators on the horizon, Jenkins is healing — and playing.

The junior notched his the first full game since his injuries in UF's victory over South Carolina on Oct. 20. He made an impact almost immediately upon his return, sacking Gamecocks quarterback Connor Shaw in the first quarter. Jenkins closed the game four tackles deep.

In Florida's win over Missouri last weekend, Jenkins finished with an impressive seven tackles — registering yet another sack.

"It was a tough game," Jenkins said. "Missouri is a good team. They came to play. I'm glad we came out with the win."

Though Jenkins has returned to the field, he admitted he's not 100 percent just yet — but he's getting there.

"I'm still handling a few nagging injuries," he said. "But everything is getting back to normal slowly but surely."

Jenkins said this season has been tough in reference to his injuries, but he credited UF's athletic training staff for returning him to play as quickly as possible.

The Olney, Md., native bolstered big promise in his arrival to Florida back in 2009 as a top-ranked recruit decorated with accolades including back-to-back awards as the Maryland Gatorade Player of the Year in 2007 and 2008.

Now, as his college career heads toward the end of his third season of playing ball, Jenkins said he does have thoughts of furthering his football career to the likes of the NFL.

"That's obviously a dream of mine," he said. "But that's something that I can deal with when I have more time toward the end of the season."

Throughout his time at Florida, Jenkins has posted 169 tackles and six sacks in his 33 games played.

However, right now, Jenkins said winning the Gators' next three contests is his top priority. The next opponent Jenkins and his teammates will have to chip away at is the homecoming game against University of Louisiana at Lafayette on Saturday.

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