SEC Bloggers: 5 Thoughts On Janoris Jenkins
ex-Gator Janoris Jenkins
CFN's SEC Bloggers give you five different perspectives on the forced departure of Florida's talented, if troubled, cornerback, Janoris Jenkins. What happened? What this means for the Gator defense? Did this materially hurt Florida's chance for the East title, and what's next for Jenkins?
Barrett Sallee: On what happened
New head coach Will Muschamp did something Tuesday that his predecessor, Urban Meyer, struggled with during his time in Gainesville - properly discipline his football team. Muschamp permanently dismissed cornerback Janoris Jenkins - arguably the best defensive back in the SEC - from the Gator football program following his second marijuana-related arrest in 2011.
On the field, it is a move that will severely hurts the Gators. Already struggling on offense, the dismissal of their best defensive player certainly opens up the SEC East even more than it already was.
Off the field, it was a move that Muschamp had to make. The Florida football program had enjoyed a high level of success under Meyer, but became a disciplinary joke in the process. More than 30 players were arrested during Meyer's tenure, many of whom received punishment from the program that was viewed as "light at best" in the eyes of outsiders.
Gabe Harris: On how this affects the defense
The dismissal of Jenkins leaves Florida's inexperienced secondary even thinner. Jenkins made the AP SEC First Team in 2010, was entering this season as a four year starter, and perhaps most importantly, seemed to play his best ball against the SEC's best receivers.
Sophomore Cody Riggs, redshirt junior Jeremy Brown, and redshirt senior Moses Jenkins are the only players left with any playing experience. The silver lining (if there is one) is that Jenkins missed the entire spring recovering from shoulder surgery, so the aforementioned players got a lot of reps, and the defense (and coaches) learned how to play without Jenkins.
The trio above have a combined 15 starts between them, so they're not completely wet behind the ears. Moses Jenkins was actually the opening day starter before an elbow injury derailed most of 2010. (As to durability, we note that 2009 wasn't much better for Moses, as a concussion limited his play that season.)
As for the rest of the cast, sophomore Jaylen Watkins played in ten games last year, though only as a special teams contributor. Incoming freshmen De'Ante Saunders, Marcus Roberson, Valdez Showers, and Louchiez Purifoy will need to grow up fast; we'd be surprised if any of them redshirt. Saunders enrolled early, went through spring drills and was listed as a backup nickel corner by the end.
Add all that up and you have a mix of inexperienced and injury-prone players who have not done a whole lot collectively at Florida. Muschamp used his honeymoon exemption to kick his best defensive player off the team and set the tone going forward. Florida will take its lumps early and often in 2011... But given Jenkins proved he could not be counted on, it was a move that had to be made. Better now than September for this Gator defense.
Russ Mitchell: On what this does to Florida's East title hopes
This was a defense that struggled in 2010 against the run - ending the season outside of the top 25 (a rarity for a Florida program). So Meyer relied heavily on his secondary, which ranked 12th nationally in both Pass Defense and the more important Pass Efficiency Defense.
Outside of quarterback, the loss of a single player is rarely that material to a title hunt. However, it's actually more than one player. With Ahmad Black and Will Hill both off to play on Sundays, the departure of Jenkins means Florida will be without the strength of that 2010 defense. As Gabe noted above, the backups have sparse experience or are injury-prone, and have accomplished little so far at Gainesville. Yahtzee!
Now consider Florida's main competition in the East... Both South Carolina and Georgia have solid quarterback play. Don't kid yourself - come August, Stephen Garcia is starting under center for the Head Ball Coach. Steve Spurrier might be angry, but he's not angry enough to miss out on a legit title shot.
As for redshirt junior Aaron Murray, he ended his first campaign as one of the most prolific rookie quarterbacks in Georgia football history.
The SC game this year is in Columbia, and the Dawgs have a much easier October slate heading into the WLOCP than do the Gators - who must contend with Alabama, @ LSU and @Auburn.
Given the turnover Florida was already facing in its secondary, this departure materially decreases the Gators' shot at the East title.
Billy Gomila: On what this says about Muschamp
There's a new sheriff in town.
In general, most coaches are pragmatic when it comes to discipline -- its severity will almost always correspond to the importance of the player(s) involved. Jenkins gave Muschamp an excellent opportunity to teach an early (and loud) lesson as to how he plans to run things in Gainesville.
As talented as Jenkins is, it's no secret that he's never been able to truly follow the straight and narrow - and that lack of commitment has extended onto the field at times. For all of the success under Meyer, it's also no secret that off-the-field discipline in Gainesville was less than stringent.
Muschamp offered all of his players a clean-slate this spring, promising he would not hold the mistakes made under previous coaches against them. But Muschamp learned his craft largely under the tutelage of Nick Saban, for whom there's little room for error. Jenkins' second arrest this semester provided an easy way to send the message that those clean slates can get dirtied up real quick.
It also sends the early and clear message that Muschamp won't tolerate these problems like the previous regime. Whether that will hold up in the future is anyone's guess, but it's a good way to let the rest of the players (and prospects) know what will be expected of them. And to let the Florida administration and fan base know that these problems won't be tolerated anymore.
Brian Harbach: On what's next for Jenkins
Jenkins may have run out of chances in Gainesville, but he is not even close to running out of chances in College Football, let alone the NFL. Of course it is disappointing he won't be able to finish his senior year as a Gator, but Jenkins has more options than just the NFL Supplemental Draft.
The Supplemental Draft is the obvious and lazy route for Jenkins to take, but that will cost him a ton of money. Some would argue a kid who gets arrested twice in roughly four months for pot is not necessarily the sharpest knife in the drawer, but if some smart is advising him, they'll tell him to drop down to FCS and play ball.
Why play a year for an obscure FCS program? Dominique Rogers-Cromartie. Jenkins has first round talent, and NFL teams are willing to overlook stupid actions in college if you are a fast, physical, ball-hawking, shutdown corner. We don't chose Rogers-Cromartie as a comparison to Jenkins because of off-field issues...rather because he is a FCS corner that was drafted in the first round.
Jenkins last option makes little sense, but he could transfer to another FBS program, sit out a year and then earn his way back into the good graces of the NFL by not getting arrested. Again. For anything. But given his return to CFB this year was a surprise, that route is highly unlikely.
To be clear, Jenkins is in a tough spot. However, his college career isn't done just yet. Hard to say what someone who throws second chances away so easily will do, but there is absolutely more than one path for him to take.
Please follow Russ Mitchell on Twitter @russmitchellsec, Brian Harbach @harbabd and Barrett Sallee @barrettsallee.
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