What appeared to be inevitable in recent days became reality Tuesday morning, when Florida senior Janoris Jenkins and Gator Head Coach Will Muschamp met and agreed it was time for the All-Southeastern Conference cornerback to leave the football team.
Jenkins was arrested three times in his UF career—twice since Jan. 24th—for misdemeanor possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana. The most recent arrest occurred last Saturday morning when Gainesville Police Department officers found a marijuana cigar in his car.
At 5'10", 183 pounds, Jenkins was quite possibly the best player on the Gator football team. The Pahokee, Fla. native grabbed eight career interceptions, including three in 2010. He surprised many by announcing he would return to UF for his senior season, despite projections he would be a first round pick in this week's NFL Draft.
His absence potentially leaves a swamp-sized hole on one side of the field, where stability had been expected.
So, who will step in for Jenkins?
There are quite a few candidates.
Jeremy Brown—A 5'10", 184-pound redshirt junior, Brown has battled back from what once appeared to be career-threatening back issues to become one of Florida's top cover corners.
He appeared in 11 games last season, starting 10 opposite Jenkins. The product of Orlando Boone High School finished the 2010 campaign with 15 tackles and three interceptions (including one he took 52 yards for a touchdown against visiting Kentucky). And his 0.80 passes-defensed-per-game tied for eighth in the SEC.
Moses Jenkins—At 6'3", 182 pounds, the "other Jenkins" is the tallest cornerback on the Gator roster.
A fifth-year senior from Fort Lauderdale, Jenkins has played in 29 games in his Florida career. He appeared in six games (including his three career starts) in 2010, but much of his work has come on special teams.
For his career, Jenkins has 37 tackles, three passes defensed, a sack and an interception (which came against Penn State in the Outback Bowl on Jan. 1st, 2011).
Cody Riggs—Hardly the biggest guy on the Gator football team, nonetheless, the 5'9", 166-pound product of national powerhouse Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas, was one of just six true freshmen to play in all 13 of Florida's games last year.
Riggs made three starts at cornerback, and was the only freshman on the roster to start on kickoff and punt coverage teams all season. He finished his first year on campus with 18 tackles, three passes defensed and an interception, which, like Moses Jenkins, came in the Outback Bowl against Penn State.
Jaylen Watkins—An early-enrollee in January of 2010, the 5'11", 183-pound Watkins played in 10 games last year as a true freshman.
The former U.S. Army All-American finished his first season in Gainesville with eight tackles and a pass defensed.
De'Ante "Pop" Saunders—An Under Armour High School All-American from DeLand (Fla.) High School, Saunders is expected to play cornerback and some safety for the Gators.
The 5'8", 173-pound speedster arrived on campus in January, but was forced to sit out UF's "Orange and Blue Debut" spring game on April 9th with an injury. Still, Muschamp praised Saunders when talking to the media and has high expectations for one of Urban Meyer's final commitments.
Louchiez Purifoy—A two-way standout from Pensacola, Purifoy will arrive at UF this summer. Coaches have told Purifoy, the nation's 11th-ranked cornerback from the class of 2011 according to rivals.com, he could compete for time at cornerback and in the return game as a freshman.
Marcus Roberson—A former prep teammate of Riggs, Roberson will arrive at UF this summer as rivals' second-ranked cornerback from the Class of 2011. At 6'1", 170 pounds, Roberson was one of UF's final (and most promising) commitments, announcing his intentions to be a Gator on Feb. 2nd.
Valdez Showers—The 2010 Gatorade Player of the Year for the state of Michigan, the versatile 5'11", 181-pounder was a running back and cornerback for Madison Heights High School. The 40th-ranked corner nationally, according to rivals, Showers will arrive in Gainesville this summer.