Florida Football Countdown 'Til Kickoff: 3) Jenkins Leads a Hungry D

By Brett Kaplan

It’s 3 days until the Florida Gators open up play against the Florida Atlantic Owls. These are my top 20 reasons to be excited about this upcoming season.

Jelani Jenkins that is. If this were before another Jenkins (I’ll give you a hint: It starts with a J and ends in anoris) got arrested twice in a three month period and get kicked off the team, then this would be about another man. But this is about linebacker Jelani Jenkins and how he and the Gator defense feel disrespected, and maybe a little bit about his fear of cockroaches. If you’re wondering what’s the deal with having this at number three? I thought we were going in order of player numbers. Well, Jenkins changed his number to three, while Chris Rainey took one, which was vacated by the before named criminal offender Jenkins. By the way, starting with Jelani could be Moses Jenkins, a senior cornerback whose number is 36. And this will most likely be the last previewing the players because there’s three(!) days until kickoff.

Jenkins, a top ten player in the 2009 class from Maryland, is the leader of this defense. He might be the fastest LB in college football. Jenkins, along with fellow LB Jon Bostic went through growing pains last season figuring out the defense. But this season, Jenkins is primed to break out and be an All-SEC linebacker in a stacked league. His season last year consisted of 76 tackles, two sacks, one fumble, and one interception. Look for bigger numbers this season. Last season Jenkins, along with Bostic, didn’t blitz very much and played very safely. This season with a defensive minded head coach, look for Jenkins and Bostic to blitz more and notch a couple of sacks.

Jenkins could be the difference on this defense with his speed. From sideline to sideline nobody has better speed. Jenkins’ speed could also be useful in coming through the defense and making tackles behind the line of scrimmage. With all 4-5 star defensive lineman taking up space and collapsing the pocket themselves (assuming everything goes the way I think), that leaves BUCK position Ronald Powell, and Jenkins to use their speed and physicality to get to the quarterback. I think by the end of the season, Jenkins leads the team in tackles and on the field.

He’s also a very smart kid, graduating high school with a 4.0 GPA. He’s placed on the SEC Academic Honor Roll while he’s been at Florida. He seems like he does things the right way. And he’s going to be a leader of this team and the Gator Nation. Florida’s first game might not be a marquee matchup in the Florida Atlantic Owls, but Jenkins is calling out Gator fans to bring The Swamp back:

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Sounds like the leader of what should be a top 10 defense nationally.

Like the column? Hate the column? Feel free to comment or hit me up on Twitter @GatorBK.

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