I watched Jordan Jenkins a lot through the years. He was a guy who popped up on the recruiting radar pretty early in the process. He was also a critical guy Todd Grantham and UGA turned away from Alabama right at the end of the recruiting process.
The big thing to remember about Jenkins’ recruiting was that it came at a time when Alabama was quite powerful, and that UGA was just coming back into the national conversation. In fact, just before the Tide knocked off LSU in the 2012 BCS Title Game (2011 season), Jenkins picked UGA over Bama on TV.
It was a big moment. Trust me when I tell you that Jenkins was viewed as a heavy Alabama lean for a long time. But in the fall and into the winter, Grantham moved the needle with Jenkins. Perhaps the play of Jarvis Jones also showed Jenkins and his family just what an outside linebacker could do under Grantham at UGA.
Looking back, Grantham did a heck of a job recruiting and developing outside linebackers. Two of Grantham’s outside linebackers have been selected in the first round of the NFL Draft. Another, Justin Houston, landed a massive contract not so long ago.
Jenkins was a physical freak coming out of Harris County. I certainly expected Jenkins to be a heck of a player for the Dawgs, but it was during a cold October night in Lexington when Jenkins showed just how much he could mean in the future to the Bulldogs. That night Jones, who was UGA’s most consistent player at the time, was hurt and did not play. It was two weeks after Georgia’s humiliating beating to South Carolina in Columbia, and the Bulldogs were struggling to find their form. A win over Kentucky was assumed, but not having Jones - a future first round pick - out there was troubling.
Jenkins got the start in Jones’ place. His numbers were not unreal - two tackles (one for a loss) and two QB pressures. But it showed that Jenkins did have great potential and could be relied on in the future - perhaps has a star.
Jenkins took off from there as he started five of the last eight games of his freshman season and was a full-time starter from that point forward in his career. Jones led the Bulldogs in sacks in 2012, but Jenkins was second that season with five.
I’m not sure I remember a quintessential “Jordan Jenkins” moment. I just remember him playing with passion and enthusiasm all of the time. He seemed to love college football and Georgia. Jenkins isn’t like most college football players - black or white. He’s a normal guy. He’s bright and seems to have the ability to relate well to most folks. If he stays healthy (I’m not sure why he wouldn’t stay healthy as he missed one game his entire career with an injury), he should have a very long career in the NFL. His measurables and explosives compare favorably to standard NFL linebackers.
Perhaps more than anything, Jenkins brought a particular maturity you don’t often see from a college football player.