- David Ching, ESPN Staff Writer
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Editor’s note: Each day between now and Georgia’s Capital One Bowl date with Nebraska, we will review the season for a key Bulldogs player and attempt to project what’s next. Today we’ll look at defensive lineman John Jenkins.
No. 6 John Jenkins
50 tackles, 2 TFLs, 1 sack
Role in 2012: Jenkins helped anchor Georgia’s defensive line by contributing at both nose guard and defensive end. The 358-pound senior performed well enough to rank among the top NFL prospects at his position.
The good: When he was on, Jenkins was a force up front for the Bulldogs who helped control the line of scrimmage. The player Jenkins is most frequently compared to is former Alabama All-American Terrence Cody, also a Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College transfer. However, Jenkins’ 50 tackles this season are almost as many as Cody totaled in two seasons at Alabama (52). Jenkins’ combination of strength and good speed for a player his size helped him transform Georgia’s defense over the past two seasons.
The bad: Jenkins had a solid senior season, but there were instances where he disappeared here and there. For instance, while he had a sack and six tackles in the Bulldogs’ loss to Alabama, nobody on Georgia’s defensive front could come away from that game feeling like they held up at the point of attack consistently enough. Alabama’s 350 rushing yards prove that point.
Crystal ball: Jarvis Jones justifiably received much of the attention over the past two season in relation to Georgia’s defensive turnaround. But Jenkins’ role cannot be understated. By eating up blockers in the center of the defensive line, Jenkins created space for the playmakers around him like Jones and Alec Ogletree to do their jobs. He’ll have his work cut out one final time against Nebraska’s run-heavy offense before becoming a likely first-round NFL pick.