ATHENS -- Jordan Jenkins has been dreading going home for the holidays. He knows what awaits him: Ronald Jenkins and the DVR.
“He’s definitely got every play record and is ready to do his postgame analysis,” Jordan Jenkins, Georgia’s sophomore outside linebacker, said of his father. “It’s gonna be a lot of critiquing this weekend.”
Jordan Jenkins is wrapping up what he admits has been a disappointing season. Entering the season he was set to step into the elite outside rushing role that Jarvis Jones and Justin Houston had established in previous seasons. Jenkins cheerfully set his goal for the year at a minimum of 10 sacks.
Entering the Gator Bowl, Jenkins has just four.
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Looking back, Jenkins knows what went wrong.
“I wasn’t mature about the offseason last year,” he said Friday.
He elaborated. There were too many voluntary workouts about which he heard “voluntary” and took it to heart. He specially mentioned workouts with speed coach Sherman Armstrong. And just in general Jenkins didn’t work hard enough, and it showed on the field.
“It humbled me more,” Jenkins said. “It made me believe that hard work and dedication is what pays off. It made me really look back to think about the offseason and summer and all the times I could have worked harder, versus sitting in the room, relaxing and playing games and hanging out. It just showed that you need to take advantage of those, and things aren’t going to be given to you. You need to work for them and put in the extra work.”
To be fair, it wasn’t a terrible season for Jenkins. He is tied for the team lead in tackles forloss with 11. In fact, he was a second-team All-SEC selection by the coaches -- an honor that Jenkins admitted was a surprise.
But the bottom line is the season hasn’t lived up to Jenkins’ expectations.
“Things came too easy (as a freshman), and it felt like they were handed to me,” Jenkins said. “This year I had to work for it, because coming behind Jarvis, I just felt like I didn’t really work that much, and I just assumed everything was going to be given. I just had a different mindset back then than I do now. I feel like it just comes with age.”
Conley gets media award
Chris Conley, known for his big words and pitch-perfect sentences, is this year’s winner of the media GATA award.
The award, voted on by media that covers the Georgia football team, stands for Gracious Attitude Towards Answering. It is named for Christian Robinson, the current Georgia graduate assistant coach who, when he was a junior inside linebacker in 2011, was the first-ever recipient.
Robinson accompanied Conley after Friday’s practice for the award “ceremony,” which preceded head coach Mark Richt’s meeting with the media.
Afterwards, Conley equated how player handle speaking to the media with how they react to plays on the field.
“I think it’s important to your brand,” said Conley, a journalism major. “Everyone wants to talk about branding, but do we really know what it means? I think the way you present yourself, the way you talk to the media, the way you present yourself when you play, ‘How does he look when he makes a big play; how does he look when he messes up a play,’ I think is the same sort of thing. It adds to your brand, so I think you should take it seriously.”
Last year’s winner was then-junior tight end Arthur Lynch, who as a senior this year put on a strong effort to repeat. There were a number of other worthy candidates, such as Ray Drew, who on one Tuesday this season answered media questions for about 45 minutes -- and it was only discovered later that he wasn’t on the media list and had just shown up anyway.
But Conley’s resume of quotes and record of accessibility proved too hard to beat.
The junior receiver is known for throwing around words like symbiotic, organizing a film featuring Star Wars lightsaber duels and this year for being Georgia’s leading receiver.
Conley’s cell phone wallpaper has a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson: “To be yourself in a world that’s constantly pushing yourself to be something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
Georgia decided on an interesting drill during special teams practice on Friday. It practiced a field goal play on which the kick was short and returned -- a la Auburn vs. Alabama.
It went much like the play that inspired it.
“We didn’t touch him,” Richt said, not identifying the return man. “Not with two hands.”
Richt was asked how often his teams have practiced the play.
“Since I’ve been at Georgia? Once,” Richt said, smiling.