Recruit 411: Jordan Jenkins

ATHENS, Ga. -- Jordan Jenkins could have graduated from high school early and enrolled at Georgia in January, but he still has unfinished business to complete.

The outside linebacker prospect -- rated as the nation's No. 67 overall prospect in the ESPNU 150 -- has grade-schoolers to read to and after-school traffic to direct.

Jenkins (Hamilton, Ga./Harris County) is a contender for a Page One Award -- a competition the local newspaper, the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, conducts each year to honor the area's best and brightest high school seniors for their scholarship, leadership, service and character -- and, competitor that he is, Jenkins wants to win.

"Here this kid is, he probably could have graduated early and enrolled at Georgia in the spring, and he's staying here to try to win a competition based on academics. Isn't that interesting?" Harris County coach Tommy Parks said. "He may tell people, 'Well, I want to run track and throw the discus and the shot,' and that's probably true, too, but I think one of the main focuses is that he's nominated for an academic award, and he's going to try to win it."

Luckily, Jenkins enjoys the community service obligations he is fulfilling as part of the competition.

"It's fifth- and sixth-graders, and I go down there to a little class and help out around there," Jenkins said of his work at nearby Creekside Intermediate School. "My eighth-grade teacher teaches there, so I read to them sometimes, and I'll help them to work out some stuff. It's a nice experience. I really love it."

At 6-foot-3 and 248 pounds, the unassuming Jenkins certainly looks the part of the star recruit who had Georgia, Alabama and Florida pursuing him heavily on the recruiting trail. But his athletic career isn't the typical tale of him simply being better than everyone else at a young age.

After his Army-employed father took the family to five states while Jordan was a child, the Jenkinses finally settled in Harris County when Jordan was in seventh grade.

Jordan had played only two years of organized football by then and was cut from the Harris County Middle School football team during tryouts.

"I came back the eighth-grade year, and they didn't even remember cutting me," he said. "I've only been playing for, like, six years."

When Jenkins reached high school, however, Parks' coaching staff quickly knew they had a star in the making. He was a contributor on the varsity squad early in his freshman year and was a budding star by the end of that season.

"We didn't have a JV team my freshman year. It was just freshman and varsity, and I only got to play one game against LaGrange, and then the freshman coach said, 'All right, Coach Parks, you can take him. I think you're going to need this guy,' " Jenkins recalled with a laugh. "Around that time is just when I feel I got real good."

By the time he was a sophomore, Jenkins was one of the state's most talked-about recruits because of his relentless motor, his athleticism and his unusual wingspan.

He's so good, in fact, that Alabama coaches tried to stay in contact with Jenkins up until the last minute on the day he announced his commitment -- which just so happened to also be the day that the Crimson Tide played LSU for the BCS championship.

That afternoon, Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart briefly changed Jenkins' mind after he and his family had settled on Georgia, according to his father, Ronald.

"During the middle of the day, Kirby Smart got ahold of Jordan on Facebook and all of a sudden Jordan comes out of the room and says, 'I am going to Alabama.' I asked what he was talking about," Ronald Jenkins said. "Every coach was calling me on the 9th, and we had decided we are not talking to any coaches today.

"We had sat down and looked at all of our facts and figures and looked at everything and he made a choice based on what was there. He decided on Georgia. Then he let Kirby Smart get in his ear. But it wasn't an hour later before Jordan decided he'd stick with Georgia."

Ronald Jenkins made it clear that the lead coaches in Jordan's recruitment -- Smart, Georgia's Todd Grantham and Florida's Dan Quinn -- did not negatively recruit against one another and that all three made compelling cases for their respective schools.

"I just knew they felt safer with me being with Coach Richt because he's a Christian man. That's one thing my mom really loves about him," Jordan said. "They just feel really comfortable with him and there's no awkwardness about it at all. I just like being around him and Coach Grantham."

Grantham is a fan of what Jenkins can bring to his 3-4 defense, as well.

Although Jenkins played defensive end at Harris County, Grantham sees him as a weakside linebacker cut from the same cloth as Georgia star Jarvis Jones, who terrorized opposing quarterbacks with his speed rush off the edge last season.

Wherever Jenkins contributes for the Bulldogs, his high school coach knows he will maximize his opportunities there.

This isn't the stereotypical prospect whose academic career took a backseat to his athletic achievements, after all. Jenkins plans to study in Georgia's fledgling engineering program and possibly focus on computer technology as a student, just in case the NFL doesn't come calling after his college career.

"Part of what makes Jordan the person that he actually is is the fact that he challenges himself with every obstacle that's thrown in front of him, whether it be writing a paper or doing a senior project or winning a Page One award or playing defensive end or outside linebacker," Parks said. "He always seems to step up to the challenge to be the best he could possibly be."

DawgNation writer Radi Nabulsi contributed to this story.

David Ching covers University of Georgia sports for DawgNation. He can be reached at davidchingespn@gmail.com.