August 10, 2012

Freshman LBs eager

Jordan Jenkins says there's one word that can be used to describe Georgia's freshman linebacker corps - eager.

"I think we all came in wanting to show what we can do," said Jenkins, whose progress along with fellow freshman Josh Dawson and James DeLoach continue to be one of the most talked-about storylines for fall camp.

Although the Bulldogs are not quite two weeks into preseason drills, the trio more than once has received some positive feedback from both head coach Mark Richt and defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, who have already stated they expect the three to play important roles this fall.

"They're doing very well. Jordan, he's got all the pass-rushing skills that you would hope a guy to have. He's got to become a little more physical in the run game, while Josh is a little stouter than I thought he would be, and he's gained some weight since he's been here, too," Richt said. "He shows good ability to learn. He's just more physical than I thought he would be and he's also got some good quickness. He's got to continue to develop his rush techniques while DeLoach is just a big, athletic guy as well. He's probably a little more stout against the run, and needs to work on his pass rush technique, but all three of them are strong enough physically and agile enough to play. They've just got to learn what to do."

For DeLoach, proving himself is something he's had to do his entire football career.

At Jenkins County, DeLoach was a three-star performer, not ranked nearly as high as fellow Bulldog freshman Jonathan Taylor, a four-star player and one of the top recruits in the state as a senior.

While DeLoach claims he never really got caught up in recruiting rankings, he concedes there is enough of a "chip" on his shoulder that has helped to push him even harder.

"I'm not saying I'm complaining, because I don't look at stars or need them to get me going," DeLoach said. "But I came in with the mindset that I've got to do everything I can to prove myself to the coaches."

As for Dawson, who chose Georgia after de-committing from Vanderbilt, he's still getting used to the intensity of practice. But he's getting more and more acclimated every day.

"Everything is very intense, it's the hardest I've ever worked in my life," Dawson said. "The entire defense is flying around. Coach Grantham is really sticking to his nature and Coach (Rodney) Garner is getting the defensive line right."

Jenkins said he's been working primarily at Will, behind All-American Jarvis Jones."

He certainly has been very helpful. He's always helping me get to play to the best of my ability," Jenkins continued. "Like (Thursday), he tried to make me go six to eight times, back-to-back-to-back on one-on-ones. He's just a great guy. He's not too far away from where I'm at, he's always joking about back in the old days when Carver used to kill Harris County."

Jenkins said he believes he's made some positive strides.

While he's not about to predict what Grantham might have in mind, he feels he will be ready for whatever opportunities might come his way.

"The first day in full pads kind of shocked me because I'm not used to getting cut and I've got to learn to play the cut and learn to get my pad level down a little bit more," Jenkins said. "I'm using my hands a little bit more, but I'm still not at the level I need to use them at."

Each of the three freshmen is getting their share of looks on special teams.

In fact, Jenkins is getting work on all four - kickoff, kick return, punt and punt return.

"I think I'm on every special team out there," he said. "In college, special teams are definitely different than high school. You have to do everything full speed, and every play matters. Special teams can be the difference in key games, like it was last year and I feel like we're going to get it done."

Wednesday's scrimmage was something neither of the three will soon forget.

"It was pretty legit," said DeLoach, who collected four tackles on the day, while Jenkins was credited with a sack after he beat right tackle John Theus.

"I had planned to rush outside, but then he soft-set so I tried to spin in, then spun back out and landed right on the quarterback," Jenkins said with a smile. "I hope there are more of them to come."