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April 7, 2011He's been deemed by some to become an instant star, a player coming on the scene at just the right time following Justin Houston's decision to leave Georgia early and head to the NFL.
But Jarvis Jones is making no predictions.
By now, his story is a familiar one to Bulldog fans. A transfer from Southern Cal, Jones was given his release by head coach Lane Kiffin following a neck injury sustained in a game against Oregon, one which USC team doctors feared would keep the former Carver High (Columbus, Ga.) standout from playing again.
A second opinion determined otherwise. Jones then transferred to Georgia a year ago.
Jones sat out the 2010 season in accordance with the NCAA's transfer rules. Now that he's healthy, he is being penciled in as a key piece of UGA defensive coordinator Todd Grantham's plan at the Sam (strong side) linebacker position.
But will the 6-foot-3, 241-pounder make the kind of impact many are saying he will? Jones said time will certainly tell.
"I'm going to go out there and play my heart out, just like the rest of the guys," Jones explained. "All of us want to make plays; that's what we're going to try and do. I think we can be a dominating defense."
One of the state's most touted prospects in 2008, Jones saw significant action as a freshman with the Trojans playing strong side linebacker, recording 13 tackles, including 1.5 for loss in USC's first eight games before his injury.
Bulldog offensive tackle Trinton Sturdivant likes what he's seen of Jones, who is listed as a strong side linebacker (Sam) after working out on the inside during bowl practice last December.
"They (outside linebackers) swap almost every day, almost every day," Sturdivant said. "He's pretty good; extremely quick."
Jones said he can play wherever Grantham wants him to.
"When I came here they told me they wanted me to play outside, then they told me they wanted me inside on the scout team," Jones said. "But pretty much, I want to be anywhere where I can help my team. I can play inside, I can play outside. Coach Grantham is a great coach."
Moving Alec Ogletree from safety to Moe linebacker has also been a plus, not only for the team but for Jones as well.
"My teammates are helping me settle into my position and by moving Tree to middle linebacker, it enables us to play fast, to play big and to play strong," he said. "It's been a great move for us all."
Jones quickly put to rest any notion that he still might not be 100 percent.
"I'm full out, everything," said Jones. "Halfway through the season I was in a green jersey, but toward the end they gave me a regular jersey and I started practicing with the rest of the guys. I'm not going to say I was full-out then, but I was a little bit. Bowl practice I was, when they let me practice at middle linebacker, so I got a lot of reps while they figured out where they wanted me."
If Jones had his way, he wouldn't have been in green at all.
Despite the advice of doctors who urged him to take it slow, Jones said he became so antsy to see just how strong his neck was, he literally took matters into his own hands.
"I never worried about it (his neck). From Day 1 when I got here in camp, the first time I stepped on the field I tried to see where I was so I hit two plays back-to-back until they told me I couldn't hit anybody else. I wasn't supposed to have contact, but I did it anyway," Jones said. "I was never worried; I knew I was healthy because when I left S.C. I was doing everything everybody else was doing. But after I got here I just waited my time, rehabbed, and did everything I was supposed to do."
The way Jones put it, he wasn't about to take any more chances that might ultimately keep him from playing the game he loves.
"When it (the injury) happened it was weird, it was crazy because I love playing football," he said. "It's something I enjoy doing and when it first happened, I didn't know what I was going to do because the reason for me going to school was to play football."