Big John was really Bigger John

semerson@macon.comMarch 22, 2013 

ATHENS – Now it can be told: Last season John Jenkins, the massive Georgia nose tackle, was even more massive than publicly known.

He’s taken the weight off since then, trying to get in shape for the NFL draft. He’s now at a svelte 343 pounds - all the way down from 370, which he admits he weighed at one point last season.

“When you’re in the moment, you don’t want the negative feedback,” Jenkins said, with a laugh. “The program stuck behind me, kept saying I was 354, when in all reality I was 370.”

Jenkins is projected as a second-round draft pick with a chance to slip into the first round, based on the athletic ability that goes with his weight: He was timed at 5.2 in the 40-yard dash, which he said was satisfactory, though he was aiming for a 4.9.

Jenkins’ two-year career at Georgia didn’t end the way he wanted, as he was academically ineligible for the Capital One Bowl. Jenkins said it pained him so much he couldn’t even watch the game – and was very relieved when the Bulldogs won without him.

“It was a lot of frustration,” Jenkins said. “Things happen. I can’t dwell on the past. I have to look forward to the future.”

Geathers bullish on replacement

The team’s other nose tackle prospect has dropped less weight, but has still dropped it: Kwame Geathers said he’s down to 335 pounds, about seven pounds lighter than last season. Geathers was timed at 5.35 in the 40-yard dash.

The departure of both top nose tackles from last year leaves a void on this year’s defense. When asked who on the defensive line he expected to stand out this year, Geathers mentioned senior Garrison Smith – the only returning starter – but also Mike Thornton, one of the contenders at nose tackle.

“I think those two are gonna turn it on, and be leaders of that group, and they’re gonna finish strong,” Geathers said.

Thornton is the smallest (6-foot-1, 302 pounds) of the candidates at nose tackle and hasn’t played much in his three years on campus. But Geathers has long been a supporter of his now-former teammate.

“I always tell him all the time: I look at his size as an advantage,” Geathers said. “He’s shorter, he can stay low all the time, he’s powerful. So I’ll be like, Man, if I had that height nobody would be getting under me.”

New York bound?

As likely first-round picks, Jarvis Jones and Alec Ogletree could both draw invites to attend the draft in person, in New York City. But only one of them was sure he’d attend if invited.

Ogletree said he’d definitely be in New York, as he and his mother have never been there.

“I told her that if I get invited we’d go,” Ogletree said.

Jones said he hasn’t made a decision, and he would discuss it with his agent. But Jones did give a clue.

“I know coach Richt wants to go with me, so we’ll probably end up in New York together,” Jones said. “So that’ll be fun, anyways.”

Abry Jones working back

Former Northside High School standout Abry Jones looked still a bit slowed during shuttle drills on Thursday, though he was timed at 5.15 in the 40. It’s possible the defensive end is still feeling the effects of the ankle surgery that kept him out of the final seven games of last season. Jones nearly returned to play in Georgia’s bowl game but was ruled out just beforehand.

“During the bowl game I think I was pretty close to 100 percent. Just really my movements were really stiff,” Jones said. “But a few weeks after I started training (for the draft) I was fully 100 percent, I was running around, cutting, doing all that stuff.”

Jones said he visited Wednesday with the New England Patriots and on Saturday is due to meet with the Philadelphia Eagles.

“So hopefully I get a couple more,” he said.

Just the facts

Last year Brandon Boykin was participating at Georgia’s pro day and being interviewed afterwards. A year later Boykin was doing the interviewing.

The former Georgia cornerback, who was a journalism major, is interning this semester at WSB-TV in Atlanta, which sent him to cover pro day on Thursday. Boykin just finished his rookie season with the Philadelphia Eagles, for whom he was a fourth-round pick.

Boykin, to his credit, didn’t use his status with former teammates to jump in front of other media members. He was professional and asked legitimate questions, asking Abry Jones where his ankle would be come August, and Jenkins whether he was happy with his 40 time.

In fact Ogletree laughed at first when he saw Boykin, who smiled back, but then asked a serious question.

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