Dawgs' Jenkins embraces expanded role

Much has been made about everybody Georgia is losing on defense from a year ago.

But is anybody in the SEC returning a more dynamic second-year defender than the Bulldogs?

Sophomore outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins has star potential written all over him. He flashed it on several different occasions last season as a true freshman.

Georgia will need it from him on every down in 2013, and Jenkins is eager to deliver.

“I know my role is going to have to expand and that this defense is going to need me to do a lot of the great things that Jarvis [Jones] did and some of the previous pass-rushers in this defense did,” Jenkins said. “If you’re going to play this spot in this defense, you have to be a playmaker and you have to make the kind of plays that take the air out of the other team.”

Jenkins was second on Georgia’s team last season with five sacks. Jones led the league for the second straight year with a school-record 14.5 sacks.

The Bulldogs have had a player finish first or second in the SEC in sacks all three years that Todd Grantham has been the defensive coordinator. In Grantham’s 3-4 scheme, it’s not only critical that the outside linebacker gets to the quarterback for sacks, but he also needs to be able to force the quarterback into mistakes, hurried throws and bad decisions.

“It’s up to me to take the lead now that Jarvis, Alec [Ogletree] and all those other guys are gone, but that’s what I came here to do,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins was a starter for the final part of the season a year ago. But with teams no longer having to pay so much attention to Jones, Jenkins knows he’ll be the one that opposing offenses will zero in on for next season.

One of his chief goals this spring is to become a more complete player. He also feels like he’ll be able to play even faster his second time through the SEC.

“I feel like I’ll be a lot better fitting the run and a lot better coming off the ball,” Jenkins said. “I waited too much this past season for the lineman to come off and would then react to that.

“I can already tell in our first few practices that I’ve gotten quicker with my first step and am not waiting for the lineman to come off the ball to react. I feel like I’m the one that’s dictating things instead of waiting.”

Jenkins said he’s just under 250 pounds now and that he lost weight over the Christmas break last year.

“I had to gain some back and am sitting around 248 right now, but I want to be at least 260 and maybe 265 by mid-summer,” Jenkins said. “I’d like to keep a playing weight of 260, because it’s hard not to lose weight in the summer.”

Jenkins, growing increasingly tired of hearing about all the starters Georgia lost on defense, says anybody who sleeps on the Bulldogs' "D" will be sorry.

“Whether anybody likes it or not, we’re coming with a swagger,” he said.

And he’s coming to wreak some serious havoc in opposing backfields, starting with that Aug. 31 trip to Clemson to open the season.

“You really need to get a minimum of 10 sacks at this position, and my goal is to get to Jarvis’ record and break it,” Jenkins said. “We’ve all got to have it rolling going into the season, and I cannot wait to get to Death Valley and get this season started.

“You’re going to see a whole new identity of Georgia football.”