The true freshman has registered 15 total tackles, five for a loss, three sacks, eight quarterback hurries, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery while playing in all six games.
Jenkins came to Athens with low expectations of playing early. He was joining a defense that returned nearly all of its starters and ranked fifth in the nation a year ago. However, defensive attrition early in the season solidified his first-career start in Georgia’s 56-20 rout of Florida Atlantic.
And according to his coaches, Jenkins took full advantage of the opportunity.
“I think he’s going to be an All-American in the next two or three years,” defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said after the win over FAU. “He can give us much needed depth as we move forward through the season. That’s why we recruited him.”
Georgia coach Mark Richt added that Jenkins is “very disciplined in what he does. He’s got a ton of reps for a freshman and he’s taking full advantage of them. He has a lot of the physical attributes that you want to have in a great (pass rusher).”
Grantham played a pivotal role in Jenkins’ recruitment last fall. Jenkins initially had minimal intent of signing with the Bulldogs, citing the speculation surrounding Richt’s future. The combination of Grantham’s NFL experience and Richt’s “hot seat” cooling after an SEC East title eventually secured Jenkins’ commitment.
Now fully settled, Jenkins has formed a close bond with fellow outside linebacker Jarvis Jones.
“He’s always trying to help me out and fine-tune my pass rush,” Jenkins said.
Jones’ status for Saturday night’s game at Kentucky remains in the air. The junior faced a groin injury early in the season that led to Jenkins’ start against Florida Atlantic. Now the issue stems from an ankle sprain that has kept Jones out of practice since the loss to No. 7 South Carolina.
Richt won’t say whether Jones will play Saturday.
Jenkins understands that his number might be called upon and has been preparing for the possibility all week.
“I’ve been starting to think that I might be starting Saturday and I need to go ahead and get my stuff ready and let Coach Grantham know that I know the playbook,” he said. “I’ve got a grasp on all three linebacker positions and know the hand signals. I feel like I have a lot more knowledge (about) our defense and some of the things that we run now at this point in the season.”