September 15, 2011

Jenkins making strides



Nose Jonathan Jenkins admits he had to catch himself from becoming too much of a spectator prior to last week's home opener against South Carolina.

It wasn't easy.

Being that he played the last two seasons at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, Jenkins wasn't able to make a trip to Athens during football season to see a game, instead he had to wait until January to take his official visit.

Thus, not only did Saturday's contest against the Gamecocks mark his first against an SEC foe, but it was also the first opportunity he's had to witness the game day pageantry for himself.

"It was a big shock coming out for Dawg Walk, to see all those people, all the fans in the Dawg Nation hyping us up," Jenkins said. "For some of the guys like (Brandon) Boykin and the others, they're used to this, but I was like a little kid in a candy store. My mind was everywhere. It wasn't until the game started that I was able to calm down."

But calm down he did, and as the Bulldogs get ready for Saturday's contest against Coastal Carolina (1 p.m.), Jenkins is beginning to show signs that's ready to start playing an expanded role.

For example:

All preseason long, fans and media speculated if defensive coordinator Todd Grantham would consider lining Jenkins up alongside fellow behemoth Kwame Geathers on the defensive line.

That time came Saturday on a couple of occasions, giving the Bulldogs a different look that head coach Mark Richt felt did its job.

" I think he's improving every day. I think him and Kwame both are playing pretty good," Richt said. "We actually had them both in there a couple of times at the same time and I think we'll probably end up seeing more of that as we go forward, too."

That would be just fine for Jenkins, who played the five technique with Geathers at nose and DeAngelo Tyson at end.

"I was just doing my job. I was fortunate to get one stop. It was an experiment, but at the same time, it may be something we use down the road," Jenkins said. "I don't know about happening in the future. I don't know anything about that, but as far as the past game, it was good. We were able to do some things and for the most part it was successful."

Physically, Jenkins is making strides there as well.

At a tick over 350 pounds for the start of preseason camp, Jenkins has dropped nearly 20 pounds in the weeks since and now comes in at a svelte 335.

"His stamina is up, he's doing well," Richt said.

Now, he just wants to get better from the technical standpoint of his play.

"I'm just trying to become a student of the game, do my job and do it the best way I can," he said. "I just want to help us try and become a better team."

That includes doing whatever he can to help the Bulldogs get their first win Saturday afternoon against Coastal Carolina.

"We're just hungry," he said. "Sometimes teams start off bad, but then work their way through it. That's how we're looking at it - just work our way through it. Everybody is still hungry, which is the way it should be."

Anthony Dasher is the managing editor for UGASports
and he can be reached via email at dash@ugasports.com.