April 28, 2011

Jenkins can't wait

Johnathan Jenkins laughed that he's yearning so much for Athens, that it's actually starting to hurt.

"My heart is pounding, it's almost like a comparison to when you're five or six years old and you're a week away from Christmas," Jenkins said. "I just CAN'T WAIT till I get down there. I can't even sleep."

No doubt the Bulldog Nation will welcome him with open arms.

In part two of a 26-series introducing the Bulldogs' class of 2011, Jenkins talks about his impending arrival in Athens and the impact he hopes to make.

"I hope to make a big impact, a huge one," Jenkins said. "That's why I came to Georgia, to play as well as I can and help this team win championships."

He's also glad he's going to have some help along the way.

Jenkins said he paid very close attention to Kwame Geathers during Georgia's G-Day game two weeks ago.

Although many assumed that the 6-foot-4, 361-pound Jenkins would assume the starting spot at nose this fall, Geathers' effort this spring assured there will at least be competition for the spot, something that suits the junior college transfer just fine.

"Man, he's coming on. From what I heard last year, he was slow coming on, but from what I've seen, man, I think he's a whole different player," Jenkins said. "I'm happy for the guy because we need him because now, whoever gets in, nothing's going to change."

Jenkins laughed at the thought that he and the 350-pound Geathers could get on the field at the same time.

"That would be cool," Jenkins said. "I played end in high school, so I could do it. If Coach (Todd) Grantham wants it, I'm with it."

Grantham obviously expects Jenkins to make a huge impact, but said it's not like the 6-foot-4, 361-pounder is being viewed as a savior for the Bulldog defensive line.

He's going to need some help, and after wrapping up spring practice Grantham agrees with Jenkins that Geathers is ready to be that man and help provide the muscle Georgia sometimes lacked at the position last year.

"I will say that I've been pleased with Kwame Geathers in the off-season. I think he's busted his tail and I'm looking forward to seeing what he can do in the fall," Grantham said. "I think competition makes everybody better, it makes us all better and I expect Big Jenks to come in here and compete, and be the type of player who can help us be successful on defense."

Jenkins is ready to do his part, too.

"I can't wait to get there," said Jenkins, who will arrive on campus with the rest of the Bulldog signees by June 6. "It's all I think about, getting to Athens and getting to work."

Jenkins' dad is helping make sure his son will be ready once he does. As his personal trainer, Jenkins' father makes sure his son is up at 5:30 in the morning, five days a week to go through his own "specialized" training sessions.

"My father, he doesn't play," Jenkins laughed. "He wakes me up at 5:30 and if I try to sleep, he's got the keys to the house so I can't get away from him."

Jenkins isn't kidding. Included among his regimen is taking a pair of 100-plus pound anchors that are attached to long chain- one in each hand - and running as fast as he can. He also swings a sledgehammer to help work his core.

"I'm not even sure how much they weigh, and the thing is with those, there's a ring in each and I've got to grab each ring, pick them up and just sprint until the whole chain is straight," Jenkins explained. "Once I do that, I've got to sprint back and get in a karate position, spread my legs, a little bit over shoulder with the (anchor), keep my back straight and I have to pull it. I can't bend my back. I've got to keep my back straight, pull and pull and pull, then come over to the other side and pull the other ring. Once I get done with that I have to sprint again.
"I've got to do like five of those."

Jenkins said that's just to warm up before the "real" program begins.

"It's crazy, man, but my dad is the best," he said. "He gets things out of me that I didn't know I had in me. He loves me and I love him."

Geathers is getting some love of his own, and those inside the Bulldog program credit Jenkins' arrival for helping him reach his potential.

"I think it was a little bit of everything," said Grantham, when asked what held the redshirt sophomore back last year. "But I think he's worked hard, he's older, he's more mature, he's changed his body a little bit and he's gotten stronger. As he's increased his weight he's decreased his body fat. I've seen him work really hard."

Both players figure to excel at nose in Grantham's 3-4 scheme.

Before last season began, Grantham said he felt his alignment could be effective with a smaller nose, much like he did with Jay Ratliff during his time with the Dallas Cowboys.

Grantham said he still believes that to be true, having an athlete at nose the caliber and size of Jenkins will give the Bulldogs an added boost along the defensive line.

"You can play with that kind of (smaller) guy, but after going through the tapes I don't think not having a big nose was why we struggled at times. So I think having a guy like Jenkins is going to help us because he's athletic, he's got size and I think he's got range inside which anytime you're playing a defensive line position - if a guy can go from Point A to Point B, tackle to tackle - I think that helps you," Grantham said. "Size does matter, you like to have it, but you don't always need it. There are situations where you can play with a smaller guy but in saying that when we saw Jenkins on tape and I saw his athletic ability, the way he can run, it was just a natural fit."

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