Florida Football: Janoris Jenkins' Return Is a Huge Win for Will Muschamp

Joe MorganSenior Analyst IJanuary 10, 2011

Janoris Jenkins announced Sunday that he would return for Florida for his senior season.
Janoris Jenkins announced Sunday that he would return for Florida for his senior season.

Will Muschamp can let out a sigh of relief.

As a matter of fact, the entire Florida Gators defensive coaching staff can rest easy now that star cornerback Janoris Jenkins has announced he'll be returning to school for his senior year.

Jenkins, a junior, was projected as a mid first-round pick in the NFL Draft, and many believed his days as a Gator were over.

Here's what Jenkins had to say about coming back to Florida for his senior year:

"After careful consideration, I've made a decision to return to school for my senior year. I spent some time with my family and Coach Muschamp and came to the conclusion it was in my best interest to return to school.

"Coach Muschamp was very supportive throughout the whole process, regardless of my decision, but he wanted to make sure I had all of the facts. I'm looking forward to working towards my degree, completing my rehab and getting back on the field with my teammates."

And while Florida is happy to have Jenkins back because he's arguably the best cornerback in the SEC, they're more thrilled about the intangibles the junior defensive back brings to the team.

With safety Ahmad Black graduating this year, Jenkins will be "the man" on defense in 2011 and expected to be the team leader for Florida next season.

After a tumultuous 2010 season in Gainesville, Jenkins now has experience from both good times and bad as a Gator, which increases his perspective as a leader.

Also, while his leadership role will be more vocal next season, Jenkins did a pretty good job leading by example for Florida this season.

Jenkins recorded a career-high 43 tackles and three interceptions, including his first career pick-six in a 34-12 victory against the Miami (OH) RedHawks.

Another plus in Jenkins' return is that young defensive backs, such as cornerback Cody Riggs and safety Matt Elam, can benefit from another year of tutelage from the veteran.

Learning the ropes in the secondary from a guy as talented as Jenkins is invaluable experience for a young football player. 

In addition to landing both an über-talented cornerback and a potentially great team leader, Muschamp gained something else with Jenkins returning—consistency and stability.

Granted Muschamp retained running backs coach Stan Drayton, linebackers coach D.J. Durkin, tight ends coach Brian White and strength coach Mickey Marotti from Urban Meyer's staff, Jenkins brings something different to the table than those guys.

Jenkins' move to return to school shows the cornerback's belief in Muschamp as head coach that will resonate with both recruits and current Gators.

Admittedly, Jenkins may be returning to school to improve his draft stock (something he couldn't do at pre-NFL Draft workouts due to a torn labrum in his left shoulder). But ultimately, Jenkin's spurning NFL riches for another season in Gainesville creates an excitement on defense that wasn't there before.

And that excitement is shared throughout the Gator Nation.

Florida has one of their best playmakers back for another season and standing firmly behind Coach Muschamp, which is something the Gators couldn't be happier about.