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Florida CB Jenkins flourishes in opener

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Recent posts by Nolan Nawrocki

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By Nolan Nawrocki

• Florida junior CB Janoris Jenkins returned an interception 67 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter and broke up three passes against Miami (Ohio), while also filling aggressively in run support, delivering a big hit in the Gators' 34-12 victory. The three-year starter did not receive the publicity that Joe Haden did a year ago, but he is establishing himself as a shutdown cornerback in the SEC. Senior safety Ahmad Black also snagged an overthrown ball and returned it inside Miami's 5-yard line in the second half. The 5-9 3/4, 185-pound Black has a small, wiry frame that may lend itself best to the CB position in the pros, not possessing enough size to hold up at safety in the NFL.

• In the season opener against Miami (Ohio), Florida senior C Mike Pouncey had a rough transition from the OG spot he occupied last season, really struggling with the shotgun snap, with far too many knuckle balls sailing wildly to QB John Brantley. The young quarterback had to deal with a number of ground balls as well, as Pouncey rolled at least three snaps, losing several that kept the Redhawks in the game. Pouncey decided to return to school for his senior season after his brother, Maurkice, declared for the draft so that he could slide into the center position and improve his draft stock, but if Mike cannot master the center-quarterback exchange, he could find himself back at guard. Senior OLG Carl Johnson sat out the opener for unspecified reasons.

• Despite being without 13 players against LSU, North Carolina still managed to compete with the Tigers until the very end, when an improved senior QB T.J. Yates had two chances to hit TE Zack Pianalto for a game-winning score. Pianalto, who was clearly interfered with on the game's last play, could not secure either ball, as Yates locked in on his most trusted receiver with Greg Little being one of the ineligible players sitting out. Others included DT Marvin Austin, junior DE Robert Quinn, FS Deunta Williams, CBs Kendric Burney and Charles Brown and junior DE Michael McAdoo. Six others, including senior RBs Shaun Draughn and Ryan Houston, where not ruled ineligible yet but were withheld from the game as the improper benefits investigation continued. Austin did not travel with the team, but did show up at the game in the stands.

• North Carolina true sophomore WR Jheranie Boyd made the most of his opportunity in Little's absence, making tough catches in traffic, coming through in the clutch in the fourth quarter and racking up more all-purpose yardage (287 yards) than any other player in the country the first week, grabbing 6-221-1 and returning three kicks for 66 yards. LSU junior CB Patrick Peterson, who returned a punt 86 yards for a TD, racked up 257 yards strictly as a returner, 244 yards were produced in the first half. However, he left through the tunnel early, appearing to be gassed from all the extra work. He allowed a ball to be caught in front of him on the game's final drive and at nearly 220 pounds, may need to shed some weight if he wants to continue in his return role.

• North Carolina senior LBs Bruce Carter and Quan Sturdivant, both of whom were not affected by the NCAA investigation, kept the Tar Heels in the game, with Carter forcing a fumble after a big hit and Sturdivant scooping up another loose ball with barely a minute remaining in the game. Carter is clearly the better athlete and will warrant early-round consideration because of his speed, sculpted physique and striking ability, but Sturdivant has a great feel for the game and a nose for the ball and continually puts himself in position to make plays.

• Cincinnati senior WR Vidal Hazelton tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during the Bearcats' season opener. The 6-foot, 208-pound USC transfer was expected to play a prominent role this season and had already notched 68 yards on six catches and returned three kickoffs prior to suffering the injury in the second half against Fresno State. He looked the part with long arms and really stood out on the scout team upon transferring last season, but could wind up returning to school again next fall.

• Purdue DE Ryan Kerrigan was very active against Notre Dame, showing great energy, effort and hustle. He knifed into the backfield unblocked to bring down Irish RB Armando Allen in the endzone for a safety and continually made his presence felt with his motor. The 6-4, 261-pound Kerrigan does not have elite athletic ability or rush talent, but similar to Bills 2001 second-rounder Aaron Schobel, he plays hard every down and will give evaluators comfort knowing what they are getting. Some evaluators stamped first-round grades on the relentless rusher based on their summer evaluations, although Kerrigan does not possess first-round athletic talent.

• Georgia junior WR A.J. Green, who sat out the season opener against Louisiana-Lafayette while the NCAA continued its investigation into improper dealings with an agent, has been suspended four games for selling a game-worn jersey to someone the NCAA reportedly defines as an agent. Green plans to appeal the decision and has given the $1,000 he received to charity. The standout Bulldogs receiver is as talented as any in college football and grades out as a top-10 talent. The question that NFL evaluators will be forced to answer, similar to Dez Bryant coming out of Oklahoma State, Michael Crabtree exiting Texas Tech and Randy Moss departing Marshall, is about Green's maturity and strength of character.   

• Alabama junior DT Marcell Dareus, who sat out the opener, was suspended two games by the NCAA for his involvement with a party held in Miami involving agents. Alabama junior RB Mark Ingram has not practiced yet this week and remains questionable for Saturday's game against Penn State after sitting out the season opener following arthroscopic surgery on his left knee that he injured in practice on Aug. 30.

 

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