John Theus vs. Jordan Jenkins.
It sounded like a headliner on a fightcard you’d see for a UFC, MMA or boxing match. But this showdown was about football.
John Theus vs. Jordan Jenkins.
Before we move forward to the start of the high school football season later this week, we thought we’d take a look back at the best head-to-head matchup of football prospects at a summer college camp.
We voted for “Theus vs. Jenkins,” which featured Florida’s No. 1 vs. Georgia’s best. The location for the showdown was Athens, Ga., at UGA’s “Dawg Night” camp last month.
In one corner, you had Theus, the 5-star offensive tackle from Jacksonville, Fla. The 6-foot-6, 290-pounder is ranked as Florida’s No. 1 prospect by Rivals.com, and he decided to follow in his older brother’s footsteps (Nathan Theus signed with UGA last Feburary) by committing to the Bulldogs by the end of Dawg Night.
In the other corner, you had Jenkins, the star-studded defensive end from Harris County High School. The 6-4, 250-pounder is ranked as Georgia’s No. 1 prospect by 247sports.com, and he has Alabama, Florida and UGA as his top three, although Auburn is making a charge. “Auburn is in the mix a little bit,” Jenkins said. “Auburn and Georgia are fighting for that third spot. It’s about dead even between the two.”
Back to Theus vs. Jenkins: The first time they went head-to-head was at last year’s UGA camp. Recalled Theus, “I didn’t know who Jordan was, but once he got in front of me I knew he was a big-time recruit. I think the first time we went against each other last year, I kind of got the best of him. That’s when I started to go on the rise [in the recruiting rankings]. A lot of people — college scouts and recruiting reporters — had a lot to say about us going against each other. So I knew this year Jordan wanted to go at it again and get his best shot in.”
Jenkins had a different memory of last summer’s first meeting. “I drove him back about 5 yards and then we had a stalemate. John and I talk about that one, even to this day.”
That takes us to this summer, when circumstances had changed radically for both elite prospects. Both are among the most-heavily recruited seniors in the nation, and didn’t have too much to gain by attending any college camps. They already had all the big offers long before the summer. Nevertheless, they both decided to square off again in one of the most highly-anticipated matchups between blue-chip prospects this summer.
Near the end of Dawg Night, the two players lined up against each other for “Theus vs. Jenkins.” It was a 1-on-1 drill with the object being for the defensive end (Jenkins) to rush past the offensive lineman (Theus) to touch the QB (which was a big padded bag). The goal for the offensive lineman is to deny it. Theus and Jenkins went at it twice. We’ll let them take you through it:
Said Theus: “The first time, he tried to speed rush me off the edge, and I kind of expected it. I was ready for it. I stood my own against him, I got him. He was pretty pumped after that, and we went right at it again for a second time. He came off the edge again, and his speed just got me. He won one, and I won one. The kid is a great athlete; everybody knows that. He’s awfully quick off the edge. I held my own against him, so I was kind of happy about that.”
Said Jenkins, “On the first one, I went outside and then when I went to rip under him, I got stuck under his elbow or something. Then I went to spin move and he got me stuck right there. On the second one, I just went by him on the end. I guess it ended in a tie.”
It got a little heated between the two, but it was all in the spirit of competition. In fact, Theus tried to convince Jenkins to join him into pledging to UGA that same night. Said Jenkins, “John said ‘I just committed and you’ve got to come be a Dawg with me, bro.’ We walked around and talked a little bit.”
Said Theus, “What happens on the field, stays on the field. Afterwards, I went to up to Jordan, because he is a great player and a great athlete, and told him that he would be a great addition to the Bulldog nation. I know with him and me being on the same team, we could make each other better in our college career. Hopefully something like that could happen because I have a lot of respect for Jordan and his game.”
Alabama and Auburn are the frontunners for Jenkins, with UGA and Auburn battling it out for third. Jenkins on UGA: “I like [defensive coordinator Todd Grantham] and I enjoy working in his defense. Another thing would be playing with Ray Drew because he’s such a great guy.” Jenkins on Auburn: “That’s another place where I have good relationships with the coaches and players. I’ve known Gabe Wright for a while, and Jeffrey Whitaker is a really, really funny guy and always making me laugh. Auburn also offered my teammate [2013 Harris County DL Jay Ellison], and that’s a big plus.”
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– By Michael Carvell, AJC Recruiting Blog
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