Jenkins Making a Push

True freshman corner Janoris Jenkins might be making a push at a starting job, especially after his performance against Tennessee. Jenkins forced a first quarter fumble, setting up a Gator touchdown and then intercepted a pass in the end zone as time was expiring at the end of the first half.

Starting a freshman at cornerback is nothing new for the University of Florida. Last year, they were forced to start Joe Haden at corner because there was such little depth at the position. But now with lots of depth and competition, Jenkins is still standing out.

The road trip to Tennessee was the first for the young Gator. And growing up in Pahokee where the town's population around 6,000, the 106,000 at Neyland Stadium was quite a scene.

"It was loud," Jenkins said. "People were wild and loud. I felt like, ‘what am I going to do? I was a freshman in this environment.' But I went out there and made plays."

Made plays he did. He snuffed out the Vols first possession when he laid a hit on Michael Hardesty to force a fumble and set up the Gators in the red zone. Florida would get a field goal out of the deal, extending their first quarter lead to 10-0.

"The hit felt great," he said. "It reminded me of a play I made in the Muck Bowl. I had flashbacks and it felt great."

His next big play came at the end of the first half. The Gators led 20-0, but Tennessee was marching towards the end zone and knew they had the ball to start the second half. A Volunteer score could sway momentum heading into the half. But Jenkins picked off a Jonathan Crompton pass in the end zone and then danced his way back to the 3-yard line.

"I saw two linemen and thought I could get past them," Jenkins said. "It's been a while since I got an interception. The last time was playoffs in high school. It feels good to make plays for the team."

Jenkins was an early enrollee, which has helped him learn the defensive plays and get more involved. He's leaned on current corners Joe Haden and Wondy Pierre-Louis for guidance.

"The spring helped me a lot because when I first got here, I didn't know the plays," he said. "Joe and Wondy helped me out a lot. We talked about plays and went over them and they got me into the playbook."

Jenkins also was able to lean on Haden during the road trip since the two roomed together in Tennessee.

"He's helped me a lot," Jenkins said. "He's my roommate on the road and we play games and go over stuff together. He just treats me like a big brother."

Jenkins is used to playing on a big stage, not as big as the SEC, but big for Pahokee. The big rivalry game is against cross-town rival Belle Glades Central, and it's known as the Muck Bowl – one of the biggest high school rivalries in the South.

"It's mucky even though you got two teams going after each other trying to win a trophy," Jenkins said. "It's smash mouth football."

For his days in Pahokee, cornerbacks coach Vance Bedford has nicknamed Jenkins as "jack rabbit".

"They gave me the name at the University of Florida coach Bedford gave me the name because I hop around a lot," he said.

But the nickname means more than just that. Chasing after rabbits is a way of life down in Pahokee.

"We chase rabbits for fun," Jenkins said. "On the weekends when there's nothing else to do."

It's also a way to make a little money on the side.

"If it's clean you get $3, if its not clean you get $2," he said. "I clean them myself or sometimes I get my homeboys to clean it."

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