NCF On The Trail: Jordan Jenkins

In the 100 days leading up to signing day 2015, RecruitingNation will be looking back at our ESPN recruiting rankings from 2006 to the present and count down the best player of the past 10 years at each ranking position, No. 100 to No. 1.

Jordan Jenkins, No. 67 in 2012 class

Jenkins was one of the most highly coveted defensive end prospects in the country coming out of Harris County High in Southwest Georgia. Following official visits to Tennessee, Auburn, Florida, Alabama and Georgia, the long-armed edge talent picked the home state Bulldogs over Alabama, Florida and closest to home Auburn after trailing the Crimson Tide, and Gators for much of the process with Alabama ultimately finishing a very close second. Jenkins was the headliner of the Georgia top 10 class that included Leonard Floyd, Keith Marshall, John Theus, Josh Harvey-Clemons and Todd Gurley.

Jenkins saw action in all 14 games as a true freshman in 2012 recording 31 tackles and five sacks, flashing a glimpse of what was to come in Athens.

The outside linebacker in the Bulldogs' 3-4 moved into the starting lineup as a sophomore. He responded with 45 tackles and 12 tackles for loss earning All-SEC second team honors from the conference coaches.

This season, as a junior, Jenkins again took the next step for Georgia. In 12 starts to date, the Under Armour All-America Game alumnus has 66 tackles, 22 quarterback hurries, nine tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks for the top 25 Bulldogs, and is firmly on the NFL draft radar.

Honorable mention: Damien Mama, No. 67 in the 2014 class. Mama has started three games for USC as a true freshman this season despite missing time with a knee injury. Coming out of St. John Bosco in Bellflower, Calif., there wasn't much drama with Mama's recruitment other than UCLA trying to make the last push. He chose the Trojans over BYU and Alabama on national signing day in a decision expected by nearly everybody.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- There's no consolation prize when you lose a recruiting battle, just an empty feeling and an empty space on the big board.

It hurts even more to lose a player on signing day, when there is no tomorrow and no other players on the big board to turn to.

Under coach Will Muschamp, Florida has had its share of wins on the recruiting trail. It's also had some impactful losses.

Here's a look at some of the top players the Gators missed on in recent years.

2011
ESPN class rank: No. 12


[+] EnlargeTimmy Jernigan
Melina Vastola/USA TODAY SportsThe Gators were once a frontrunner for Timmy Jernigan, but he ended up at FSU where he became one of the nation's top defensive tackles.
It would hardly be fair to pin most of the Gators' head-to-head recruiting losses in this class on Muschamp, who was hired in mid-December 2010. He inherited a recruiting class ranked in the top 10 from then-retired coach Urban Meyer, and Muschamp was commended for keeping the bulk of the class together. For example, Muschamp had less than a week to make an impression on Nick Waisome before the nation's No. 2-ranked cornerback decommitted from Florida and flipped to FSU. Not Muschamp's fault.

But the head coach and his staff did have several weeks to take the recruiting baton and try to close with a couple of uncommitted gems from the state of Florida. The Gators were considered frontrunners at one time for DT Timmy Jernigan and LB Curt Maggitt, who ended up at Florida State and Tennessee, respectively. In both cases, Muschamp was unable to capitalize on his reputation for defense and lost the two prospects to offensive-minded head coaches.

2012
ESPN class rank: No. 4

The Gators suffered a painful loss in January when DE/LB Jordan Jenkins picked Georgia. He was a top priority and the UF coaching staff had put a lot of time and effort into his recruitment. The bad news foreshadowed what can only be described as a signing day nightmare, as Florida struck out with eight uncommitted recruits and another who made his decision shortly thereafter.

Desperate for help at receiver, Florida was spurned by two of the top prospects in the nation, Nelson Agholor (USC) and Stefon Diggs (Maryland), who have already shown flashes of brilliance on the field. The Trojans were also the beneficiary of defensive tackle Leonard Williams, who said he made up his mind on the morning of signing day. Florida was a painfully close second, and Williams made an instant impact as a freshman starter.

Muschamp also felt good about keeping offensive lineman Avery Young in his home state, but he ended up at Auburn, where he started on last season's national runner-up. Another Floridian, the nation's No. 1 cornerback, Tracy Howard, was considered a lock for the Gators until he took a visit to Miami on the last weekend before signing day and changed his mind.

And who could forget the gripping saga of No. 1 outside linebacker prospect Josh Harvey-Clemons? He announced his decision to go to Georgia in the morning on ESPNU's signing day show. His family was shocked. They wanted him close to home in Valdosta, Ga., and thought he would choose UF. The situation turned surreal when his grandfather and legal guardian refused to sign the letter of intent. It took a full day to sort out, but Harvey-Clemons faxed his letter of intent to attend Georgia the morning after signing day.

2013
ESPN class rank: No. 2


The headline in the local newspaper was "Muschamp set up for stress-free signing day". Indeed, most of the drama took place in January when Florida signed eight early enrollees, including three top-rated players who flipped to Florida late in the process. It was a strong rebound for a coach who took some criticism with the way he closed out his class the year before.

But there were some misses, recruits who could have played a big role for the Gators in what turned out to be a woeful 2013.

Cornerback Jalen Ramsey and defensive lineman DeMarcus Walker, both top-40 prospects in the ESPN 300, picked FSU over Florida. Walker, from Jacksonville, Fla., originally committed to Alabama over UF. When he wavered many thought the Gators would be the beneficiary. Instead he flipped to the Seminoles just before enrolling in January. Ramsey, who had been committed to USC for months, changed his mind when Trojans coach Lane Kiffin came under fire. Instead of choosing the Gators, where his high school teammate QB Max Staver was committed, Ramsey ended up at FSU and made a huge impact as a starter on the Noles' national championship team last season.

Offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil, ranked No. 1 at his position and No. 5 overall, was another tough loss. Like Jernigan two years before, Florida was a frontrunner at one time. Both prospects went to the same high school in Lake City, Fla, just 45 minutes north of Gainesville. Tunsil ended up at Ole Miss, where he started all but four games as a true freshman.
Though Florida and Georgia have agreed not to host visitors for their annual showdown in Jacksonville, Fla., the game still remains as one of the most attractive games in the country for recruits to watch. The two schools have had some epic recruiting battles in the past and there are several ongoing contests. Here’s a closer look at five recent and five present recruiting battles between the two SEC East rivals.

Top SEC recruiting rivalries 

October, 1, 2013
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From year-to-year the Southeastern Conference is full of recruiting battles. This year it appears that Alabama and LSU could have some of the best recruiting battles we've seen in a while. Here's a closer look at the five top recruiting rivalries in the SEC.


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Recruiting pitches: SEC

May, 10, 2013
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Inspired by Florida's "#ComePlayWRFortheJoker" campaign, our recruiting writers looked at other ways schools can sell themselves on the trail. Here's a look at recruiting pitches for the SEC:

Alabama Crimson Tide
What they are selling:
What's not to sell? Alabama is coming off back-to-back national championships, and the Crimson Tide had nine players taken in April's NFL draft, including three in the first round. For the critics who say you won't play early at UA, ask T.J. Yeldon and Amari Cooper how much they contributed as freshmen.

What they are missing: Although they won a national championship, the Tide didn't generate much pass rush last fall, and they had trouble containing freshman sensation Johnny Manziel. Also, they need to rebuild the offensive line, a unit that anchored the offense last year.

Arkansas Razorbacks
What they are selling:
New head coach Bret Bielema runs a completely different offensive system than the previous two Arkansas coaches. The Razorbacks are selling an opportunity for freshmen to come in and earn playing time early in their careers.

What they are missing: The Razorbacks signed only one offensive lineman, Denver Kirkland, who was rated a four-star prospect or higher last year. In this run-heavy system, look for Arkansas to focus on landing talented players along the offensive line.

Auburn Tigers
What they are selling:
It's a new regime for Auburn, but there's a familiar face running the show. New head coach Gus Malzahn knows the program from his days as offensive coordinator. He's already shown the ability to recruit, stealing ESPN 150 linebacker Tre Williams away from the Tide. There's a sense of excitement on The Plains again.

What they are missing: Malzahn filled out his first recruiting class with playmakers, but Auburn needs to build up front on the offensive and defensive lines. No matter what offense you run, if you want to win in the SEC, you need to be able to compete up in the trenches.

Florida Gators
What they are selling:
With no proven wide receivers on the perimeter, Florida is attempting to sell early playing time at the position. A chance to play for one of the best defensive minds in college football in Will Muschamp is another selling point to defensive prospects.

What they are missing: Production on offense. After finishing 114th nationally in passing offense, it will be hard to sell playing time to wide receivers without an explosive passing game in place.

Georgia Bulldogs
What they are selling:
Freshmen, if they're good enough, play early at Georgia. From running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall to offensive tackle John Theus to defensive end Jordan Jenkins, several freshmen Bulldogs made major contributions on a team that was a few yards away from making the national championship game.

What they are missing: Georgia has brought in four top-12 recruiting classes in the last four years. Depth might become an issue for some recruits, but Georgia has certainly shown a willingness to play younger players.

Kentucky Wildcats
What they are selling:
After finishing 2-10, Kentucky fired coach Joker Phillips. New head coach Mark Stoops is offering a fresh start and a chance to help build Kentucky in to a contender in the SEC East.

What they are missing: Plain and simple -- tradition. Sure, Kentucky is full of basketball tradition, but the success on the hardwood completely overshadows the football program. A record 50,831 fans attended the Wildcats' spring game, so the interest level is certainly headed in the right direction.

LSU Tigers
What they are selling:
An unprecedented 10 underclassmen declared for the NFL draft. LSU is selling the opportunity, not only for early playing time because of the departures, but a chance to make it to the NFL in three years.

What they are missing: Because of all the departures, there are some holes on both sides of the ball. Depth is now an issue at running back and LSU will need to replace Eric Reid, Kevin Minter, defensive ends Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo, defensive tackle Bennie Logan and linebacker Kevin Minter.

Ole Miss Rebels
What they are selling:
Ole Miss landed the No. 5-ranked class in the country, including No. 1 overall player Robert Nkemdiche and No. 1 offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil. Look for Ole Miss to sell recruits on the opportunity to help build something special under head coach Hugh Freeze.

What they are missing: Freeze brought a creative and innovative offense to the SEC, but the defense is still a work in progress. Ole Miss finished 12th in the SEC in pass defense and will need to continue to build depth in order to compete for the SEC West championship.

Mississippi State Bulldogs
What they are selling:
Only 11 of 22 starters return for a team that finished 8-5 last year. The Bulldogs offer recruits a chance to play early and play in the best division in college football.

What they are missing: Mississippi State returns its starting quarterback Tyler Russell, but who will he be throwing to? Last year's four leading receivers, including Chad Bumphis, are gone. Look for the Bulldogs to focus on offensive weapons in this recruiting class.

Missouri Tigers
What they are selling:
The Tigers return 14 of 22 starters on a team that went 5-7 in its first year in the SEC East. Missouri runs a fun and innovative offense that is sure to attract recruits, and there is certainly an opportunity to play early.

What they are missing: The defensive line is probably the most critical area on any defense in the SEC, and the Tigers lost their best lineman in Sheldon Richardson. Mizzou must find a viable replacement for Richardson and linebackers Zaviar Gooden and Will Ebner.

South Carolina Gamecocks
What they are selling:
The Gamecocks have been dominant on defense over the last few years, and a strong line is a big part of their success. South Carolina is selling an opportunity to be the next Jadeveon Clowney and be a part of one of the top defenses in the SEC.

What they are missing: Hard to believe, but head coach Steve Spurrier needs help at wide receiver. The Gamecocks signed only one wide receiver in their 2013 class. They have young bodies, but not much depth or production from the returning group.

Tennessee Volunteers
What they are selling:
A fresh start under new head coach Butch Jones. Since 2011, Tennessee has finished with the No. 13, 21 and 29 recruiting classes in the country. There plenty of holes to fill, and any incoming freshman will have plenty of opportunities to earn a starting spot.

What they are missing: Tennessee lost wide receivers Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson to the NFL draft and must replace their production on the outside. The Volunteers are also thin in the secondary and will look to recruiting to plug some key holes on defense.

Texas A&M Aggies
What they are selling:
There is a lot to sell a recruit on at Texas A&M right now. An explosive offense which led the SEC in total offense by more than 100 yards a game, Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel and a team that went into Tuscaloosa and handed Alabama its only loss last season.

What they are missing: There are still some holes to fill on defense. The Aggies finished with the No. 8-ranked defense in the SEC and the No. 10-ranked pass defense in the league. They also need to replace talented defensive end Damontre Moore, who is now in the NFL.

Vanderbilt Commodores
What they are selling:
Head coach James Franklin has taken Vanderbilt to a bowl in two consecutive years, and the Commodores are bringing in a solid recruiting class. Selling recruits on an opportunity to play at Vanderbilt during one of the best eras in the school's football history is enticing to high school recruits.

What they are missing: Vanderbilt is not yet on par with other SEC schools as far as facilities. The Commodores, though, are certainly headed in the right direction. A new indoor practice facility is being constructed, and stadium renovations are in the planning stages.

ESPN 300 DE Bellamy joins Dogs 

February, 6, 2013
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ATHENS, Ga. -- Davin Bellamy (Chamblee, Ga./Chamblee) became the 14th ESPN 300 member to join Georgia’s 2013 recruiting class Wednesday, following through on recent interest in the Bulldogs after checking out Tennessee and Oregon.

The former Florida State commitment was defensive coordinator Todd Grantham’s top target at outside linebacker, particularly after Naim Mustafaa switched his commitment to Oklahoma State after the season. The 6-foot-5 Bellamy is ESPN’s No. 299 overall prospect and No. 25 defensive end.

Georgia believes the athletic Bellamy can eventually fill a similar role to that of former Bulldogs All-America outside linebacker Jarvis Jones as his career progresses.

What is the impact of Bellamy's decision?

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'Dream Team' impacts UGA's 2013 class 

November, 21, 2012
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ATHENS, Ga. – Georgia’s recruiting class for 2013 is ranked No. 10 in the new class rankings released Wednesday and with a few key commitments, the Bulldogs could climb the list even higher.

Brice Ramsey
Tom Hauck/ESPNHSQuarterback Brice Ramsey committed to Georgia early and became a face of the class.
Georgia has had four classes ranked sixth or better in the last five years, the only exception being the 2010 class. That group of signees was small and only three members from that class are starters today. Granted, Alec Ogletree, Jarvis Jones and Kenarious Gates are three of the Bulldogs’ top players, but the 2010 class and the 2010 season left much to be desired. Georgia finished that year 6-7, Mark Richt’s only losing season at Georgia.

The following year Richt and his staff rededicated themselves to the recruiting trail and landed what he called the “Dream Team.” The Class of 2011 was ranked No. 6 in the nation and had an instant impact as Georgia won the SEC East and played in the SEC title game. The two year turnaround from the losing season to being the division champions removed the hot seat talk that had hounded Richt and in 2011 he signed the No. 5 recruiting class in the country.

Much of the staff’s success in 2011 was due to their work in landing the Dream Team. Many of the 2011 recruits were identified earlier and recruited more heavily than in years past. Many of the recruits in the Class of 2011 saw the Dream Team being put together and liked the idea for their class as well. Although they never adopted the “Dream Team II” moniker, the idea was the same.

Todd Gurley, Jordan Jenkins, John Theus, Marshall Morgan and Collin Barber are all staring for Georgia as freshmen. The win against Auburn gave Georgia its second SEC East title in a row. Just as meaningful to some Georgia fans is the fact that the Dream Team is 2-0 against Florida – something that no recruiting class has been able to say in over 20 years.


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RecruitingNation airs at 3 p.m. ET today on ESPNU, and national analyst Craig Haubert and senior national analyst Tom Luginbill will discuss the new No. 1 team in the class rankings.

That team?

The Alabama Crimson Tide.

After landing five-star safety Landon Collins and four-star athlete Cyrus Jones at the Under Armour All-America Game last week, the Tide leaped ahead of Texas to become the nation’s No. 1 class.

Haubert and Luginbill will discuss other movers and shakers in the top 25 and reflect on recent commitments from players like Channing Ward, Barry Sanders Jr. and Jordan Jenkins. The analysts will also take a look at players whose stock increased after the recent national and regional all-star games.

RecruitingNation writers will contribute with a look at what's still on the board at Michigan and how USC is dealing with sanctions.

Scouts: More talent for Grantham's D 

January, 10, 2012
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Georgia, who finished strong in-state a year ago, just landed a key in-state prospect in ESPNU 150 defensive end Jordan Jenkins (Hamilton, Ga./Harris County).

A top eight player in the state and a top five player at his position, Jenkins is a defender with good size and an impressive wing span for his build. He plays hard and his active nature and use of his long reach can make him tough to get and keep blocked. He should be able to develop into a real productive pass rusher in Athens with his physical tools.

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Four more for Utah State 

January, 10, 2012
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The Aggies have picked up four new verbal commitments for the Class of 2012, the Herald Journal reports.

Two-star defensive tackle Jake Simonich (Danville, Calif./San Ramon Valley) is headliner and he chose the Aggies over offers from Colorado State, Northern Arizona, Sacramento State and San Diego.

"There were a lot of deciding factors, but probably one of the biggest ones was they just seem like a family."

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Jordan Jenkins picks the Dawgs 

January, 9, 2012
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Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham knows college recruiting is a marathon, not a sprint. After trailing behind Alabama and Florida for almost a year, Grantham and his staff pulled out a come-from-behind victory to land one of the top defenders in the nation and an enormous prize for the Bulldogs' defense.

ESPNU 150 defensive end Jordan Jenkins (Hamilton, Ga./Harris County) committed to Georgia on Monday night, choosing the Bulldogs over Alabama, Florida and Auburn.

[+] EnlargeJordan Jenkins
Kim Klement/US PresswireEleventh-hour artistry by Georgia coaches helped sway four-star linebacker Jordan Jenkins (right), who committed to UGA on Monday.
"I am picking Georgia and I would like to say, 'Go Dawgs,' " Jenkins announced live on Fox Sports South.

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Jenkins plans to announce Jan. 9 

December, 21, 2011
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The stage has been set for Jordan Jenkins (Hamilton, Ga./Harris County), one of the most talented pass rushers in the country, to announce his decision. Four programs have been in contention for the 6-foot-3, 248-pound ESPNU 150 prospect, and the high-motor defender has given each school a chance to impress him in the last few months.

Alabama, Auburn, Florida and Georgia have been going all out with official visits, calls and in-home visits to the Jenkins family, and fans of the Southeastern Conference rivals will soon learn which team the Under Armour All-American will suit up for this fall.

Jenkins’ announcement will air Jan. 9 on FoxSports.

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