ATHENS — As a freshman, Jordan Jenkins rather infamously predicted that he would break Jarvis Jones’ single-season sack record before his own career was over. Now a senior, that still hasn’t happened.
But that doesn’t mean Jenkins has had an underachieving career. Far from it.
Named a defensive captain for the second week in a row as Georgia prepares to face Vanderbilt on Saturday in Nashville, Jenkins is considered the Bulldogs’ most dependable defensive player.
“Jordan’s a very solid football player,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said Wednesday. “He lines up properly and you kind of know what you’re going to get. He’s going to play hard, he’s going to play good assignment and discipline. … We’ve been able to count on him for those things. He’s playing first and second down very well, much better than he did as a young player. He’s providing good leadership as well.”
And it’s not like Jenkins has been unproductive when it comes to getting after the quarterback. With one of the Bulldogs’ three sacks in the opener against Louisiana-Monroe last Saturday, Jenkins has 16 in his career. That moves him up into a tie for 10th with Greg “Muddy” Waters (1984-85) on UGA’s career list. He’s got a ways to go to track down the top three: David Pollack (36), Richard Tardits (29) and Jones and Jimmy Payne (28).
Of course, depending on how things go for the Bulldogs this season, a sack per game could put Jenkins in position to finally threaten Jones’ single season mark of 14.5.
“That’s definitely a pace I’d like to keep up,” Jenkins said this week. “I really just want to keep working and grinding and just try to be as much of a factor in a game as I can.”
Jenkins’ goal has been somewhat hindered by the presence of other players for the Bulldogs. Leonard Floyd and Lorenzo Carter are often lining up opposite him on the weakside of the offense, where pressure is often initiated.
But Jenkins production in that regard has been incredibly consistent. He’s had exactly 5.0 sacks each of his previous three seasons. He had a career-best 12 tackles for loss in 2013 with 9.5 last season and 8.0 as a freshman.
“The thing about sacks, half of them are out of effort and sometimes out of being disciplined, but sometimes a sack comes to you,” Richt said. “The quarterback gets flushed in one direction and there you are where you’re supposed to be. There are times you just beat a guy off the edge and go get them, but a lot of times it’s just being relentless in your rush and being disciplined.”
Sacking the quarterback could be particularly tough this week against Vanderbilt. While the Commodores have suffered some injuries on their offensive line, quarterback Johnny McCrary of Decatur is extremely quick and mobile.
“It sucks when you have quarterbacks like that,” Jenkins said with a laugh. “You love those tall quarterbacks who just sit in the pocket all day. But when you’re rushing against a guy like that you really have to have more control in your rush and focus on your keys. You don’t want to run past him because he’ll take off.”