Published Friday, December 28, 2012
By MARC WEISZER
Morris News Service
ORLANDO, Fla. — Georgia will have to try to slow down Nebraska’s rushing attack without one of its key pieces on defense.
Nose guard John Jenkins won’t play in the Capital One Bowl because of an “academic-related” issue, ending his college career, coach Mark Richt said.
“He will not be at the bowl,” Richt said late Wednesday afternoon as the team arrived at the Renaissance Orlando Hotel.
Richt said there are no other academic casualties.
Jenkins is projected by several draft analysts as a first-round NFL pick. He was a second-team All-SEC selection by the coaches and the media. He is eighth on the Bulldogs with 50 tackles and fourth on the team with 15 quarterback hurries.
“I think John Jenkins has been awesome for Georgia,” Richt said. “I’m really proud of everything he’s accomplished for us. Just really want to wish him the very best. He’s been a blessing to our program.”
Nebraska is eighth in the nation in rushing at 254.5 yards per game.
Junior Kwame Geathers will replace Jenkins in the starting lineup. Geathers started four games this season when Jenkins slid over to defensive end.
“It’s going to be tough to play without Big John,” receiver Tavarres King said. “Things happen. Guys will fill voids. Guys have stepped up thus far all across the board. Big Kwame will step up and play his tail off and there won’t be a drop-off.”
The 6-foot-3, 358-pound Jenkins did not take part in any of the on-campus bowl practices. Georgia had listed him as out with a concussion.
Jenkins played two seasons for Georgia, starting every game this season and 20 games total after arriving from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.
Garrison Smith, Cornelius Washington and Ray Drew remain at defensive end.
Richt said Jenkins’ loss could be softened if defensive end Abry Jones is able to return. He’s missed the past six games following ankle surgery.
“When we left town, we were expecting him to be able to be in position to play,” Richt said. “What type of condition he’ll be in and how many plays will he be able to play will be another story. It might create more of an opportunity for a guy like Mike Thornton and Ray Drew. ... Sterling Bailey has practiced well so he might get some reps as well.”
Jenkins next game will be in the Senior Bowl all-star game next month in Mobile, Ala.