Recruiting Rewind: UGA-bound Jordan Jenkins was “big fish that got away” from Alabama

Jordan Jenkins was UGA's biggest surprise in its 2012 recruiting class. He was a longtime "lean" to Alabama but was persuaded to sign with UGA after developing a close relationship with defensive coordinator Todd Grantham

Jordan Jenkins was UGA's biggest surprise in its 2012 recruiting class. He was a longtime "lean" to Alabama but swung late to UGA

UGA-bound Jordan Jenkins was “the big fish who got away” from Nick Saban this February when he raided Georgia for eight of the state’s top recruits while assembling a No. 1-ranked recruiting class  for the fourth time out of the last five years.

Alabama was the longtime frontrunner for Jenkins, the AJC Super 11 defensive end from Harris County High School who nearly canceled his UGA official visit on two separate occasions due to speculation over Mark Richt’s future. Jenkins ended up visiting UGA and was won over by Bulldogs defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, who posted the signature recruiting victory of his college career by luring Jenkins out the grasp of Alabama. For UGA, it was easily the biggest overall surprise out of this year’s class.

The 6-foot-3, 256-pound Jenkins was UGA’s most prolific 2012 signee on the defensive side of the ball, ranked as the state’s No. 1 prospect by both Scout and 247sports.com. Jenkins, the son of a career military officer, was popular with the recruiting media for his outgoing personality, candid remarks and downright humbleness about being ranked so high.

Jenkins talked to the AJC about recruiting …

If you could give one piece of advice to a high school junior about recruiting, what would it be? “It would be ‘Don’t ever read the message boards about you and focus on that too much because people are going to talk bad about you and people are going to talk good about you.’ Or my advice would be ‘Watch what you say because you can’t take it back in a live interview’ … the interview thing, when I was at camp, [Scout.com’s Chad Simmons] asked me what I thought about UGA? Two seconds after he asked that, I said ‘Well, I don’t like Georgia.’ Then he said ‘You mean Georgia the college? Or Georgia State?’ Then I said ‘Georgia the college,’ as in the University of Georgia, like an idiot. Of course, now I’m at Georgia.”

Nick Saban (AP photo)

Nick Saban lost Jenkins to UGA but still had a banner year in this state while on the way to yet another No. 1-ranked recruiting class (AP photo)

When you committed to UGA on live TV, you said your family “didn’t exactly feel safe” with you going to Alabama, and that the Bulldogs were a better fit because you didn’t want to go to a place where your mom was “worried” about you all the time. “My mom didn’t know … she was always uncertain how long coach Sal Sunseri and coach Kirby Smart were going to be at Alabama. And then, a few days after [I committed], Coach Sal was gone to Tennessee.”

So you were trying to say … “Pretty much that, and I wanted to go to a place where my mom was comfortable with all the coaches and could talk with all of them on a personal level – the whole coaching staff and not just one or two coaches. She never really got a vibe or real ‘family feel’ for Coach Saban. She really loved Coach Smart but she didn’t really get to know or have that type of relationship with any other Alabama coaches … whereas at Georgia she did.”

What was your impression of Nick Saban? “I was a lot closer to Coach Smart than I was with Coach Saban. When Coach Saban is around a bunch of football players, he’s more open than he is when it’s just you and your family. Coach Saban is a great coach but he’s a quiet guy. It sometimes felt awkward being around him. But I just love Coach Smart.”

What could Alabama have done better to sign you? “Honestly, nothing. They did a great job. I just wasn’t feeling it with them at the end.”

What was the most creative thing a college did to get your attention? “During my official visit to Tennessee, they gave me a whole jumpsuit to wear while I was there. I was dressed like I was a player before the game. If you didn’t know who I was, you’d actually think I was a Tennessee football player. I had the adidas shoes, the adidas socks, the adidas shorts, the adidas shirt, the adidas sweats and the adidas jacket. I wore it in the pre-game meeting, during the game and after the game. I actually had a couple of people come up to me to ask me to autograph a ball or something that other Tennessee players had signed because they thought I was one, too … No, we couldn’t keep any of [the Tennessee gear]. We had to give it all back …Tennessee was the best official visit I had. I went out to a 5-star restaurant and I ate the most expensive thing on the menu. It was a great time over there.”

Tennessee got in late with Jenkins but made a big impression (AP photo)

Tennessee got in late with Jenkins but made a big impression (AP photo)

What was the most creative thing UGA did? “They turned on the stadium lights and put on the inspirational video [on the scoreboard] when I went on my official visit. That’s one of the things that really opened my eyes because I was like ‘Wow, I can really play here at Georgia and enjoy it’ after watching that. It began to change my whole opinion of Georgia.”

What was the funniest thing a college coach said to you? “This wasn’t meant to be as insulting as it sounds. When coach Gene Chizik was comparing Auburn and Alabama, he put up a slide that showed they had more wins, more this and that … then he started talking about Florida and how Will Muschamp follows in his shoes. I started busting out laughing. He said ‘When I was at Auburn the first time [as an assistant] and after I left, Muschamp came here. Then I was at Texas and after I left, Muschamp came there.’ He went on and on. He said ‘Muschamp just follows in my footsteps’ and it was hilarious the way he said it.”

Which coach not from UGA was the nicest? “Coach Derek Dooley and Coach Gene Chizik. Coach Dooley was incredibly nice. My mom really loved Coach Dooley. I hated to tell him that I wasn’t coming to Tennessee.”

If you were in charge of the NCAA, what rule would you change about recruiting? “That’s a very good question. My dad and I had a conversation after this after the fiasco with texting. [Note: UGA coach Mark Richt committed an NCAA secondary violation after inadvertently responding twice to a text message sent to him by Jordan’s father asking about camp dates]. I’d open the communication a bit more that the college coaches can do with the recruits. And I’d change some visitations so that they can come see the players more.”

Did you have any second thoughts before you committed publicly to UGA? “I was about 90-percent Georgia and 10-percent Alabama that day. I really didn’t know exactly where I was going until a maybe an hour and half before the [announcement]. The whole ride up there [to the TV studio], I was thinking ‘If I go to this school, is this really where I want to go?’ After I committed, everything was better. And I’m glad I picked Georgia in the end.”

You committed to UGA on January 9, and had three weeks until signing day. Were you ever tempted to change your mind? “Oh no … no, no, no. After I gave my word and committed somewhere, that was it. I was 100-percent Georgia after that. I had no thoughts on switching.”

DE Jordan Jenkins (AJC)

UGA DE-LB signee Jordan Jenkins (AJC)

How do you feel about your chances of playing this season? “Coach Grantham said I have the possibility of making a little bitty impact. That’s what he kept saying during all the recruiting visits. He said I’m behind Jarvis Jones, and I might get in there with Jarvis at the same time by the end of the year for some plays. I don’t know. I guess it depends on how all us turn out when we get to college. You’ve got to work hard and earn it.”

With UGA having players transfer or suspended during the offseason, do the coaches now have higher expectations for you contributing this season? “My dad and I have been talking about that. With Bacarri and Ogletree out for a few games, they might have to move some guys around on defense. I might have a chance to get in there real early. It’s making me want to learn my playbook more. I actually have my playbook right beside me now. I’ve got about 75 percent of it down. I’m learning it as quickly as I can. I will be ready when I report to Georgia on June 4.”

HOW SOON UNTIL FOOTBALL SEASON?

READING MATERIAL FOR MASTERS COMMERCIAL BREAKS

INSTANT AJC RECRUITING CLASSICS …

– By Michael Carvell, AJC Recruiting Blog

Got an item? mcarvell@ajc.com

Got an item? mcarvell@ajc.com

  • So much is happening so fast. Have you missed anything over the last few days? Catch up with our feed by CLICKING HERE
  • BOOKMARK the NEW AJC Recruiting homepage here
  • Want to see a list of the top 125 prospects state of Georgia who signed with D1 schools? It’s looong. Go here.

Note: Inappropriate BLOG comments and personal attacks will NOT be tolerated. We love the lively discussions but hate-filled, harassing and irresponsible comments are unacceptable.

Please Follow me on Twitter @RecruitingAJC + Please be my Facebook friend here

281 comments Add your comment

Mike

April 2nd, 2012
11:09 am

Dawg Haus

April 2nd, 2012
11:15 am

We’re glad you made the decision you did, Jordan! Welcome to the Bulldog Nation!

Hoops Dawg

April 2nd, 2012
11:16 am

Gotta post because it looks like no one has yet. Love this guy. welcome aboard.

Bigdsel

April 2nd, 2012
11:16 am

Hope Jenkins lives up to expectations

UGA Lee

April 2nd, 2012
11:17 am

Another week …. Another article with ole Carv hitting up on Saban ….. JEALOUS?

Bigdsel

April 2nd, 2012
11:19 am

I heard he is a beast. Maybe he can make a big o impact

Dawg4 Life

April 2nd, 2012
11:20 am

Jordan you made a terrific decision to sign with Coach Richt. He’s a great man with great Christian principles and values. Your mom can feel safe with you being at Georgia rather than at Alabama with Coach Saban. He cannot be trusted. I don’t know why other Georgia parents would let their child play for that man.

UGA Lee

April 2nd, 2012
11:21 am

Hey Jenkins,

Since you are probably reading this and the comments, take a look at your future teammates ..

http://www.ajc.com/sports/uga/uga-football-arrests-2008-601205.html

Crimson Lie

April 2nd, 2012
11:23 am

Cool Story. Thanks!

Tide Pride

April 2nd, 2012
11:24 am

He would have looked great in Crimson and White!

Great pickup for UGA – a blind pig finds a nut every once in a while!

Despite the suspensions – UGA is poised to have a great year.
I still think they will beat MO! Should be a competitive game – but if UGA learned from 2011 season – they will close this one out. If they play like they did against USCe and Mi STATE – then it is the same team as 2011 – ans UGA will have a disappointng season.

Other key games:
USCe
Florida
Auburn
All of these games are up for grabs. UGA could win them all – or lose them all.

Destin Dawg

April 2nd, 2012
11:25 am

good choice Jordan.. go dawgs 1!

James

April 2nd, 2012
11:26 am

Good thing for Jenkins that he’s good enough Satan most likely wouldn’t have yanked the scholarship from him at the last minute. Go Dawgs!

UGA Lee

April 2nd, 2012
11:29 am

Good this for Jenkins that he doesn’t like National Championships ….. Hence the UGA signing

Destin Dawg

April 2nd, 2012
11:29 am

UGA Lee.. misdeamenors.. and traffic tickets… no thugs.. and no weapons.. no felonies.. over 4 years.. Go Dawgs !!

Pdogg

April 2nd, 2012
11:33 am

Great to have you with us Jordan. GATA. Go Dawgs!!!!

Destin Dawg

April 2nd, 2012
11:33 am

Kids that stay In State.. close to support groups.. friends and family.. generally do better in school and life after sports … Go Dawgs !!!

yep

April 2nd, 2012
11:36 am

UGA Lee. too funny.. glad he is in a safe place! Best of luck to the kid.

Bubba J.

April 2nd, 2012
11:50 am

An earlier post of mine:

Bubba J.
March 31st, 2012
2:39 pm

…….. And why is nobody mentioning Jordan Jenkins stepping in for Alec Ogletree during his suspension? That kid is a beast, won’t surprise me if he’s starting game 1. Go Dawgs. All the Bama and Tech fans on here bashing need to get a life.

Thanks MC, glad to see you’re reading my posts. This kid is good. If he’s not playing game 1 I’d be surprised, Go Dawgs!!!

Ace

April 2nd, 2012
11:54 am

Will he cheat, steal, and break enough rules to really fit in at UGA ?

MNC and how to define it ..........really

April 2nd, 2012
11:59 am

I am old and retired. That is my excuse for being on this site.

I think that 75% of the I HATE UGA crowd or the NO MNCs for UGA in 100 years stuff is from 17,18 y. old kids and stay at home older guys with no career or ambitions but to only bang away at home on Mom’s PC.

They wear Alabama’s caps, done up all in Crimson with the stylized A and parade at the malls thinking that they are bad dudes. Next year? When say the real USC wins it or Texas or LSU or some other school, these SAME guys will go out to the mall, purchases that cap in the MNC school’s colors and parade around thinking that “I am a bad dude look at me”.

Such is the mindset of 75-85% of the I hate UGA crowd.

College is for ever and Goooooooooooooooooooooooo Dogs. !!

Yes, with our without the MNC ……………………. love MY Dogs.

DOGGYDOG

April 2nd, 2012
12:00 pm

Good story here. Good stuff. I have something to throw out there about the Branden Smith thing. Just read about the facts in that one. A malfunctioning tag light. THAT IS BULL%$#*!!!!!! The cops use that crappy excuse whenever they want to to pull over whoever they want to. I’m no ultra lefty, but it sounds like he was profiled. Happens too much in this police state!

Clarke County College for Girls and Effeminate Boys

April 2nd, 2012
12:04 pm

Please note that the CCCGEF is actively recruiting for openings on the Boys “Bedazzling” team. GO DAWGS!!!!

Krystal Burger Association

April 2nd, 2012
12:04 pm

Coach Dooley should be ashamed to put socks in his pants. He is 40 something years old.

Taco Meat

April 2nd, 2012
12:05 pm

Sounds like a stand-up kid. I wish him well and hope he see the field early and often like Amarlo Herrera did last year. Go Dawgs!

Pdogg

April 2nd, 2012
12:07 pm

Bubba J, alec ogletree is an inside linebacker. Jordan Jenkins is more of a outside linebacker/defensive end. He will be playing a similar role to what jarvis jones does, lots of rushing the passer. Plus we have good depth at inside linebacker right now (with herrera, robinson, and gilliard)

A Father

April 2nd, 2012
12:10 pm

Great get for us at Georgia, ashame Todd Grantham wont be here to help him improve after 2012.

Who will be the new GA coordinator after 2012 is a big question left to be answered.

Michael Carvell

April 2nd, 2012
12:11 pm

@A Father, I’m with you. I can’t see Todd Grantham at UGA more than two more seasons max. Somebody will try to hire him as a head coach, barring a meltdown. And I’m not sure why UGA fans are so touchy about this topic: If you’re an SEC offensive or defensive coordinator and your name is NOT being brought up in head coaching rumors on a regular basis, then you’re probably on the way to getting fired or replaced.

alpharetta alice

April 2nd, 2012
12:14 pm

hey doggydog, get back to MSNBC and send a text to Reverend Al with your concerns.

waitnsee

April 2nd, 2012
12:18 pm

Its inexcusable AL signed 8 of the states (of GA) top recruits. That shouldn’t happen dawg fans.

BamaGuy

April 2nd, 2012
12:18 pm

I have no issues with the DAWGS…However, I think this kid nailed it when you wonder why Georgia players seem to be having more legal problems (numbers wise) than other schools right now.

“Coach Saban is a great coach but he’s a quiet guy. It sometimes felt awkward being around him”

I think when players/recruits meet Coach Saban they become very concerned about how Saban does not coddle to them and even keeps a healthy what I would call a “distance”. Saban leaves no question about if or how he will react to their personal failings as he doesn’t allow the recruit or the player to think they are FRIENDS…Saban is about winning and taking care of you responsibilities on and off the field and doing your job…If you don’t he will find someone else that will….If that doesn’t appeal to you then Richt is there as a feel good friend/father figure who will forgive your failings and put you first over the program…Only after numerous incidents that leave him no other choice will he give you the boot….I think players/recruits sence it and I think that is the difference in their approache.

Flo-Ri-Duh

April 2nd, 2012
12:19 pm

UGA – Lee Obviously you are anti UGA. You are from Bummer? That’s my guess. Even a Techie knows that a blind SQUIRREL finds a nut sometimes – not a blind pig. Saban just announced two Tide players, from the state of Georgia are suspended from his team for violating rules and LAWS though he wouldn’t go in to the details. One of them was drug related according to other sources. Guess they have criminals and thugs in Bummer too! Now – don’t you look silly.

pj

April 2nd, 2012
12:20 pm

I actually attended a game this past fall and Jordan lined up for the opposition. You could tell from the opening snap that he was a man among boys – not in the way Robert Nk is (that guy is flippin huge), but more in a fully built, techincally sound athelete way. He already looked like a college player – When ‘Tree and Jarvis leave after this year – he is clearly the heir apparent to one of those positions. 2013 has All-American written all over him.
In the meantime, I hope he learns the playbook quickly so he can shore up our depth. SOMEBODY on the D will get hurt this year and we need the Ray Drew’s, Ramik Wilson’s JHC’s and this kid to be ready to start if needed!

Flo-Ri-Duh

April 2nd, 2012
12:23 pm

A father (not a muther?) – We know you are anti UGA so don’t even pretend to be one of the UGA fans. Grantham just signed a contract extension through 2014. Wishful thinking (or lack of thinking) on your part but Grantham’s not going anywhere but UGA.

TiderNTexas

April 2nd, 2012
12:31 pm

Can this guy write a story that doesn’t include Bama or Saban

Paddy

April 2nd, 2012
12:33 pm

Tide Pride……..you think he would look good in a Harvard uniform? Glad to see someone at Bama has an open mind about recruiting choices. I think this kid would look good even if he wore those butt-ugly uniforms of U Conn or U Miami.

Whiskey Breath

April 2nd, 2012
12:34 pm

Mike, that’s your way at taking a cheap shot at NS and Bama?
You don’t have to do that, that just means you are running out of material to write about.
NS has been the recruiting champion for 3 of the last 4 years. 2 national championships.
If NS really wanted him, he would have been at Bama. Why take a cheap shot at NS?
You are better a reporter than this, don’t do the sleezy reporting. Why don’t you write about
what a lazy head coach CMR really is? You might be surprise how many people read it.

Doggystyle

April 2nd, 2012
12:35 pm

Yea because we all know Athens is really safe lol.

tide roll

April 2nd, 2012
12:39 pm

That is a great article. All things being equal, could you do one on BRANDON GREENE, the 6′6″ 290 lb. Under Armour All American left tackle, out of Atlanta’s Cedar Grove High, who signed with the TIDE over UGA. Talk about a “big fish” that got away! Bama projects him as another JAMES CARPENTER, our Ist round draft pick and left tackle out of Hepzibah, Ga.! Hell, why not do a feature on him too. The “original big fish” that got away! He and Chance Warmack, our left guard out of Atlanta Westlake, led us to our NATIONAL TITLE victory over TEXAS. In fact, WARMACK wil be a 4 year starter for us at left guard, and has TWO NATIONAL TITLE RINGS! Thank you Richt, thank you Booboo, thank you Will Friend, and thank you STATE OF GEORGIA. Keep handing us All-American offensive lineman! Hilarious. DO IT DAWGS!

A Father

April 2nd, 2012
12:39 pm

flo ri dah: please provide the proof that richt and grantham have signed new contracts?

Michael Carvell

April 2nd, 2012
12:40 pm

@Tide Roll, welcome back. I think a lot of your fellow posters have missed you.

MossDawg

April 2nd, 2012
12:42 pm

IF UGA WINS 10 GAMES, Is Todd Grantham leaving to be head coach somewhere else?

georgiasouthernalum

April 2nd, 2012
12:50 pm

UGA will be 2-2 after four games and Grantham is a jerk!

A Father

April 2nd, 2012
12:52 pm

Todd Grantham knows that he is worth alot of money at this time. Two things to make it happen, 1) show self control and leadership ability, thus since the Vandy situation has kept a low profile and not heard much if anything out of him. Two, have his defense perform at the highest level in 2012, equal to or better than a top 6 ranking and with the schedule and talent should be possible.

Todd Grantham wants to be paid accordingly, he is not and the published raise is nowhere near what Todd Grantham is seeking. Remember, the contract for TG would be new and replace the old one. I do not see TG signing the new contract unless alot changes in the form of more money offered and verbage contained in contract.is changed.

Todd Grantham “EGO” is not one of a coordinator — he will strive at all cost to be a head coach for 2013 season somewhere

UGA Lee

April 2nd, 2012
1:02 pm

Ole Carv just changed his quote …. from saying “a few days after signing day Sal Sunseri left” …. to “a few days after I committed Sal Sunseri left” …….. PROOF THAT YOU MAKE UP STORIES CARVEL

http://espn.go.com/college-football/story/_/id/7458507/alabama-crimson-tide-sal-sunseri-leaving-job-tennessee-volunteers

Burdell

April 2nd, 2012
1:04 pm

Was the “inspirational video”, the now famous, “Party in the UGA”?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4GJVxFP19Gs

UGA Lee

April 2nd, 2012
1:05 pm

Flo-Ri-Duh …. guess he’s going to UGA due to the tradition of winning national championships ….. uhhh ….. ummmm……. scratch that

bamaboy49

April 2nd, 2012
1:07 pm

JENKINS- SOUNDS LIKE A GOOD KID, TO BAD HE WILL LEAVE GEORGIA WITH AT BEST SEC EAST CHAMPION RING. GET READY UGA FANS TO BLOW YOUR TOP WHEN BAMA SIGNS THE TOP 2 PLAYERS IN YOUR STATE THIS YEAR.

Hey Hey Hey We're the Monkees

April 2nd, 2012
1:08 pm

Tide Roll

I would rather see a story about Ben Jones. The great center that UGA plucked out of Alabama and ended up starting 50 games for the Dawgs.

2,000 lbs of grade A b_tthurt

April 2nd, 2012
1:13 pm

Congrats to Richt and Co. for this great pickup! No doubt Saban tried to get him, but it’s obvious this kid chose to stay close to home and mama. Nothing wrong with that – I think he’ll be another successful D lineman for the dawgs. RTR!!!

Brown Dog

April 2nd, 2012
1:18 pm

I like the comments from the young man. He preferred Georgia to Alabama. Chocolate or Vanilla. But spare us the glib spirituality bit. If you cared about Christian values you wouldn’t be sitting on anonymous chat boards judging people you don’t know.

Good luck to the entire Jenkins family.