- David Ching, ESPN Staff Writer
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Editor's note: As part of our "Recruit 411" series, DawgNation staffers will conduct Q&A interviews with the newest Georgia players' high school coaches to complement the feature stories introducing the new Bulldogs.
Today's interview is with Tommy Parks, who coached outside linebacker prospect Jordan Jenkins at Harris County High School in Hamilton, Ga.
Here is what Parks had to say in an interview with DawgNation beat writer David Ching:
DC: What has Jordan meant to your football program?
TP: Obviously he's been the sole kind of poster child for our school in the last three or four years. We've had a lot of positive things come out of Harris County prior to Jordan Jenkins coming here, with our trips to the playoffs and having winning seasons for the first time in several years and having a chance to go to the playoffs for the first time in a couple decades. But Jordan just kind of put us up on a different level. Once he started getting the exposure that he got on a state level, and then being named as the No. 1 prospect in the state of Georgia, that put us kind of on the map in a national sense. Then him being who he actually is -- a great student, a great ambassador for our program -- it's meant volumes for our program and for our town for him to be a part of our program.
DC: Was there a moment where you were watching him and thought, "This is a potential major college football player"?
TP: It was probably after his freshman year. We played Statesboro in the playoffs when he was a freshman, and he had about five or six games up under his belt. I felt like when we got on the bus to come home from Statesboro that night, I kind of knew then that this kid was going to get some big-time attention from some big-time schools, just because of the rate that he was having success as a young freshman. I remember a conversation with his dad after his freshman year about maybe starting to decide what camps and combines to go to.
DC: Do you have a favorite play that stands out?
TP: Oh, yeah. It was probably his sophomore year. We played Hardaway High School, which is kind of our natural rival. Hardaway had a really good running back and Jordan had gotten some penetration in the backfield and slipped down and missed him. So the kid's streaking down the sidelines and he's kind of outrunning all of our team and then out of the blue comes this young kid basically hawking the kid down. I knew at that moment that it was pretty impressive to see a defensive lineman running past linebackers and DBs to catch a kid like Austin Scott from Hardaway, who was a really, really good player and a really fast kid. I knew that was a play that opened my eyes and opened a lot of eyes. We put it on his highlight tape. It was actually the first play on his highlight tape after his sophomore year.
DC: What do you think is his greatest attribute as a football player?
TP: His work ethic and how he's grounded to his beliefs of continuing to work hard and strive for perfection. Nobody's perfect and nobody's ever going to be perfect, but he's a worker. He's never satisfied and he's easily motivated. He's easy to coach, in the fact that he's competitive. When you're competitive like that, it doesn't matter if we're playing checkers or counting how many road signs are on the left and how many are on the right on the way to Tuscaloosa to a football camp, he wants to win, even if that means driving backwards.
DC: What do you think he needs to work on before college?
TP: I think probably, once he gets settled into one position -- because he's played multiple positions for us -- I think the main thing he needs to work on is obviously his technique and his strengths and understanding to just use his athletic ability. He's got a tremendous amount of athletic ability and I think sometimes, in the sense of being afraid to make a mistake, he may leave himself out there to get blocked when he could probably just make a play being an athlete. I think once he gets into a set position, I think the sky's the limit for him.
DC: How do you feel Jordan will fit into Georgia's defensive scheme?
TP: I've been asked this before by a couple guys. I think the best thing about Jordan is he's kind of like a utility infielder in baseball. He's really comfortable being down on the edge as an end. He could easily put on weight and do that if it meant him playing a little earlier than he could. Or he could stand up and learn that linebacker spot and learn how to get out in coverages and drop underneath receivers and stuff like that. He's a good enough athlete where he could drop in coverage or he could get down and put his hand in the dirt and play an end position.
DC: What do you think it was that made Georgia finally stand out?
TP: I'm not sure. They've always been in the mix. I think his family just felt comfortable with him being at Georgia. All the schools that offered Jordan were quality schools, and I've never asked him why. I was just happy for the kid. Like I told him, it's not important where you go, it's important what you do when you get there. I've got all the confidence in the world that Jordan's going to make the best out of every opportunity that he has. That's just the type of kid he is.
David Ching covers University of Georgia sports for DawgNation. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Georgia commit Jordan Jenkins had the makings of a star player before high school. By the time he was a freshman/sophomore, he was handed over to the varsity team, which coaches recognized as needing Jenkins right away.