Hey, remember how excited we all got when Mark Richt put the cherry on top of the already delicious sundae of the 2011 recruiting class by bringing in defensive tackle Jonathan Jenkins from Gulf Coast Community College? Remember how we were all convinced that we'd just found the red and black's very own Terrence Cody to plug the middle and turn Todd Grantham's 3-4 front into a finely tuned machine?
Heh, about that: Looks like it's not happening (yet).
The 6'4", 345-pound Jenkins was a DNF at Georgia's first practice due to the heat and was hampered by a hamstring after that, and based on the amount of practice he stands to miss between now and the start of the season -- as much as one full week total, according to Seth Emerson of the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer -- Jenkins' playing time against Boise State could be severely limited.
But a funny thing happened between Jenkins' commitment to the Dawgs and the start of fall practice: Redshirt sophomore Kwame Geathers, a lineman who played in only eight games last season (with no starts), gained 25 pounds and earned unofficial defensive MVP honors of spring practice. Now an imposing 6'6", 350 pounds, Geathers is nearly as big as Cody was the last time he suited up for the Crimson Tide, and according to all available reports, he's a virtual lock to start at nose tackle for the Dawgs this season.
There are good and bad sides to these developments. Obviously, the emergence of a mountainous, run-stuffing nose tackle -- the absence of which was arguably the biggest impediment to Grantham's defense in its first year in Athens -- can only be a positive as the Dawgs continue their effort to play the 3-4 the way it's meant to be played. One could also, if one were so inclined, see Geathers' development as a vindication of Joe Tereshinski Jr.'s much-talked-about strength and conditioning regimen.
On the other hand, anyone expecting to see Geathers and Jenkins on the field at the same time may have to wait a while. The not-so-dirty, not-so-secretive dirty secret of Grantham's 3-4 formation is that he actually mixes in a fair amount of 4-3 looks, and it would've been real nice to put not one but two Everest-sized tackles up there to pave the opposing offensive line and let DeAngelo Tyson, Abry Jones and a linebacker or two go QB hunting in the backfield. That plan looks like it's being put on hold, at least until Jenkins can get healthy and get up to speed on the playbook.
But Jenkins' absence from practice hardly looks like the end of the world, at least the way the rest of the team describes it. There's a man-mountain ready and waiting to anchor the middle of that shiny new defensive line, Dawg fans, he's just not necessarily the guy you thought he'd be. Life, as John Lennon once said, is what happens while you're busy making other plans; fortunately the Dawgs' plans don't seem to be derailed as they head into a defining season for Mark Richt and the entire program.