Janoris Jenkins is One to Watch

A year ago at this time Janoris Jenkins was just one of the youngsters in the Gator secondary. In fact, he was the second best true freshman behind Jeremy Brown. But Brown's back started acting up and Jenkins began his move on the depth chart, eventually taking over the corner opposite Joe Haden to give the Gators perhaps the best corner tandem in college football.

Now the Gators are defending BCS Champs and Haden and Janoris Jenkins are back trying to take the Gator defense to another level. That higher level would build on the tremendous performance in the BCS Title Game against Oklahoma and turn the defense into the dominant type unit that carried the Gators to the BCS Title in 2006.

Jenkins earned Freshman All American honors last season grabbing three intercepting three passes and breaking up 11 others while also registering 39 tackles. A year after Haden became the first true freshman in school history to start at corner opening day, Jenkins became the second. I spoke with him after this Thursday practice.

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LV: Janoris, after the long summer how good was it to finally get out there?

JJ: It was great. We've had a great off-season and worked really hard. Everything during the summer was about finishing strong and that's what we're trying to do every day, finish strong.

LV: How do you guys create a new level of hunger after winning a championship last season?

JJ: Coach Meyer keeps on top of us about everything, telling us not to get too full of ourselves. He tells us to just focus on the team and playing together.

LV: He also talks a lot about leadership. When he does that mean to you? Who do you think about when you think about leaders on this unit?

JJ: You gotta start with Brandon Spikes, Ryan Stamper, Joe Haden, guys like that. (They are) good guys who go work hard in the weight room and go all out.

LV: With the entire two deep of the defense back what does that mean in terms of what you are capable of becoming as a unit?

JJ: (We just) got to be better than last year, play hard and make plays.

LV: Where do you feel like you have the most room for improvement?

JJ: When I'm in the slot, (I need to) jam him more, get my hands on him, things like that.

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An interesting sub plot around Jenkins involves his arrest back in May for an off-campus incident in which police used a taser in him. He agreed to a pre-trial intervention program for that offense, but there is much speculation that internal discipline will include the talented sophomore missing the season opener with Charleston Southern. Jenkins was coy about the issue when asked about missing the first game, adding to the belief he might not be playing in the Gators' first game. Florida Coach Urban Meyer does not announce suspensions in advance very often, so chances are we won't know for certain until September 5.

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