Florida Gators Football 2011: Will Muschamp Takes a Stand with Janoris Jenkins

John PattonContributor IApril 28, 2011

Better days... Janoris Jenkins celebrates Florida defeating Oklahoma for the BCS national championship in January of 2009.
Better days... Janoris Jenkins celebrates Florida defeating Oklahoma for the BCS national championship in January of 2009.Doug Benc/Getty Images

There is no doubt Janoris Jenkins is a talented kid.

I first saw it when he excelled in the role of Mr. Do-It-All for Pahokee High School. There, playing defensive back, running back, return man (you name it), he may have been the best player in Florida's ocean-deep prep football ranks.

He won his fourth state championship as a senior, leading the Blue Devils to a 53-14 victory against previously unbeaten, but highly overmatched Newberry, a team whose best player signed a national letter of intent with Charleston Southern.

Jenkins was phenomenal during that 2007 Class 2B title game, and his 80-yard touchdown run 13 seconds into the second half helped turn a 26-14 contest into the blowout it became.

But after the contest, Jenkins did the most classless move anyone in any of the eight championship games spanning two weeks in Orlando's Citrus Bowl.

While the rest of his Blue Devil teammates celebrated, the future Florida Gator grabbed a sign that read "14-0 Undisputed" and shoved that in the downtrodden faces of his still-shaken opponents (who also entered the contest 13-0) while he participated in what was supposed to be the postgame handshake line.

So, sportsmanship has never been his strong suit.

In fairness, after he got to UF, I can't recall any personal fouls or taunting issues. On the field he joined Joe Haden as the nation's best cornerback tandem.

Early, opposing offenses did all they could to avoid Haden, and Jenkins made the most of the added opportunities. And when Haden left school early for the NFL Draft - where he was selected seventh overall in 2010 by the Cleveland Browns - Jenkins became the Gators' undisputed No. 1 cover man.

He intercepted three passes last season to join Louisiana State's Patrick Peterson on the All-Southeastern Conference first team at corner. It was expected Jenkins would take his eight career college interceptions onto the NFL, where he would have joined Nebraska's Prince Amukamara and Colorado's Jimmy Smith in the second-tier of projected first-round cornerbacks ranked just behind Peterson.

Due in great part to having serious shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum suffered very early in the 2010 season (he toughed his way through it, playing very well despite the pain), Jenkins elected to return to Florida for his senior year.

That's when it all started to go wrong.

He already had one strike against him, stemming from a 2009 arrest and Tasing following a street fight in downtown Gainesville, when he found himself arrested Jan. 24 for misdemeanor marijuana possession. 

Then, after sitting out all of Spring practice while his shoulder healed, Jenkins was arrested again last Saturday, again for misdemeanor marijuana possession.

And that was enough for new coach Will Muschamp, who dismissed arguably his team's best player on Tuesday.

So, with his Gator career gone in a cloud of smoke, Jenkins now has three options, unless he wants to play in the Canadian Football League.

1. Apply for a supplemental draft with the NFL, one that likely would be held this summer.

2. Transfer to a Division II school, where he would be eligible to play immediately.

3. Transfer to another FBS university, where he would have to sit out a year before becoming eligible in 2012.

Jenkins told the Orlando Sentinel he hasn't made a decision on his future, outside of saying he would finish the current semester at UF.

My guess is he moves on to the NFL, where the grass just might be greener. And as long as it isn't rolled up or stuffed into a pipe, Jenkins should do just fine.

So far, Jenkins' actions not only have cost him a scholarship, it probably has cost him millions of dollars.

Someone is going to take a shot on Jenkins, and he may very well pay off for the franchise that takes that leap. His ability is unquestioned.

But Muschamp did the right thing for the University of Florida. Now, let's hope Jenkins starts doing the right things for himself.