Is Jarvis Jones really the best college football player in the country?
Georgia head coach Mark Richt certainly thinks so.
"I can't think of a better player than Jarvis in the whole United States of America," Richt said during Tuesday's weekly press conference at the Butts-Mehre Building. "He's the best."
After practice, Jones was asked if he had heard what his coach had to say.
"I didn't, but he told me he spoke highly of me today," Jones said. "We were getting out of a meeting earlier and he said he had spoke highly of me. Coach Richt's a great guy. He knows I'll do anything for this team. I try to stick my neck out all I can to make us a better bunch and that I'll go out there and give everything I've got."
His numbers are no doubt impressive, especially when you consider he's sat out two of Georgia's eight games due to injury.
Nationally, Jones is on top of the college football heap in not one, but two categories.
His five forced fumbles are the most of any player in the country, while his tackles for loss average (2.33) also puts him at No. 1.
(David) Pollack was a guy who had a knack for that," Richt said. "There are just certain guys who not only want the sack, but they want the ball out."
Make no mistake, Jones does, too.
"For me it's the technique and development of the mindset that Coach (Todd) Grantham teaches, and watching (former LSU cornerback) Tyrann Matthieu last year. He always went for the ball, and anytime I'm around the ball I'm trying to knock it out," Jones said. "For me, every chance I get I'm trying to get the ball. When you see me tackle, I'm trying to get the ball out. When you see somebody else making a tackle I'm running over there trying to get the ball out."
Meanwhile, the awards keep piling up for the former Carver star after Saturday's performance against the Gators which saw him collect a team-high 13 tackles with three sacks, two recovered fumbles and two forced fumbles, including the one he knocked from the grip of tight end Jordan Reed with two minutes left to help secure the Bulldogs' 17-9 win.
This week, besides being named the SEC Defensive Player of the Week, Jones learned on Tuesday he had been tabbed the Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week for the second time this year.
Monday, Jones was named a semifinalist for both the Maxwell and Chuck Bednarik Awards.
Ironically, one of his chief competitors is Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o, somebody Jones revealed Tuesday almost became a teammate while he was still playing at Southern Cal.
"He's very consistent, makes a lot of plays and he's a tremendous player," Jones said. "What's funny, when I was at USC my freshman year, he had committed (silently) and he was supposed to go to USC, so that would have been crazy."
There were no new names on Georgia's post-practice injury report.
Zander Ogletree has been a missing man for most of the season, but Saturday against Florida certainly made up for lost time.
After Merritt Hall went down on the Bulldogs' first offensive play with a sprained ankle, Ogletree got the call due to Hicks being back in Athens recovering from a concussion.
"It felt great. My name got called and I was ready to go," Ogletree said. "That's what I've been focusing on, playing hard and playing physical and that's what I plan to do."
It was just his second game of the year.
"The only other game I had played in was the Kentucky game when I got in on one punt return," said Ogletree, who estimated he saw 50 plays at fullback against the Gators.
"It felt great. It's always good to beat Florida," Ogletree said. "It was a big-time game, not just because it was Florida. We went all out as a team. We played hard. It was good to see."
This and that
Richt was not impressed with Tuesday's practice in full pads as the Bulldogs (7-1, 5-1) continued their preparations for Saturday's game with Ole Miss (5-2, 2-2). "I was looking for something better than what I saw," Richt said in a statement. "I'm not sure we won the right to win today. We'll see." The Bulldogs, who are ranked No. 6 in both the BCS and coaches polls this week and No. 7 by the Associated Press, practiced in full pads, under blustery conditions for a second consecutive day. ? Richt said injured receiver Michael Bennett feels like he's on pace with his recovery from his torn ACL. "He's kind of over the shock and the initial pain of it, knowing that you can't play the rest of the season. There are going to be long days of rehab and maybe even wondering what could have been. I don't know if he'll go there, but I think he knows he has a great future ahead of him," Richt said. "He still has two years of eligibility and people recover quite well from that type of surgery. He's walking around without crutches and he feels like he's ahead of the game right now in the rehab process." ? Richt said Todd Gurley's 118-yard performance against Florida was probably overshadowed by everything else that happened against the Gators. But it shouldn't be. "I thought it was probably underrated as far as what people talked about at the end of the game. There were so many things to talk about in that game. I thought it was a tremendous performance, especially with that many carries against that physical of a defense. To average 4.4 (yards per carry) and not really have a long run, that was a heck of a game, and his ball security was tremendous."