Nose guard John Jenkins won't play in the Capital One Bowl because of an "academic-related" issue, ending his college career, coach Mark Richt said.
"He will not be at the bowl," Richt said late Wednesday afternoon as the team arrived at the Renaissance Orlando Hotel.
Richt said there are no other academic casualties.
Jenkins is projected by several draft analysts as a first-round NFL pick. He was a second-team All-SEC selection by the coaches and the media. He is eighth on the Bulldogs with 50 tackles and fourth on the team with 15 quarterback hurries.
"I think John Jenkins has been awesome for Georgia," Richt said. "I'm really proud of everything he's accomplished for us. Just really want to wish him the very best. He's been a blessing to our program."
Nebraska is eighth in the nation in rushing at 254.5 yards per game.
Junior Kwame Geathers will replace Jenkins in the starting lineup. Geathers started four games this season when Jenkins slid over to defensive end.
“It’s going to be tough to play without big John,” receiver Tavarres King said. “Things happen. Guys will fill voids. Guys have stepped up thus far all across the board. Big Kwame will step up and play his tail off and there won’t be a drop-off.”
The 6-foot-3, 358-pound Jenkins never took part in any of the on-campus bowl practices. Georgia had listed him as out with a concussion.
Jenkins played two seasons for Georgia, starting every game this season and 20 games total after arriving from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.
Garrison Smith, Cornelius Washington, Ray Drew remain at defensive end.
Richt said Jenkins' loss could be softened if defensive end Abry Jones is able to return. He’s missed the past six games following ankle surgery.
"When we left town, we were expecting him to be able to be in position to play," Richt said. "What type of condition he'll be in and how many plays will he be able to play will be another story. It might create more of an opportunity for a guy like Mike Thornton and Ray Drew. ...Sterling Bailey has practiced well so he might get some reps as well."
Jenkins next game will be in the Senior Bowl all-star game next month in Mobile, Ala.
Moving on without Garner
Georgia held its second bowl practice without Rodney Garner on Wednesday night. The defensive line coach was hired by Auburn a week ago.
Richt said hiring Garner’s replacement will be “priority one,” after the bowl game. He confirmed that instead of moving someone on staff, the hire will be a defensive line coach.
“We’ll be excited about who’s next,” Richt said. “I’m getting bombarded by a lot of people who are very interested in the opportunity. So we won’t have any trouble hiring a very quality person where Rodney was.”
In the meantime, defensive coordinator Todd Grantham will oversee the defensive line as well as coach the outside linebackers. Grantham coached the defensive line in the NFL for Dallas, Houston and Indianapolis.
“We’ve got some graduate assistant coaches, too, who can also step in and help us in that regard,” Richt said. “The plan is in and most of the work’s been done. There are still some things that coach Grantham will have to keep an eye on, maybe a little bit more than when coach Garner was here, but it shouldn’t be a problem.”
Linebacker Christian Robinson said graduate assistants Mike Kelly and Mike MacDonald are able to free Grantham up to work with the defensive line.
Richt said he has not made a decision on whether he’ll name someone as recruiting coordinator, a role that Garner had.
“I don’t even know if we’ll need to do that,” Richt said. “I’ll be debating and trying to decide what’s in the best interest of everything, but we’ve got our in-house recruiting team and a lot of those things are going to be taken care of, things that need to get done administratively.”
Georgia hired Daryl Jones to a newly created position of director of on-campus recruiting last May.
“Things were already starting to change when we brought Daryl in, and lightening Rodney’s load, basically,” Richt said. “It is a tough job for a guy to do that full-time and coach.”
Richt said special teams aren’t likely to factor into the new hire.
“It could, but more than likely not,” Richt said.
King on the mend
Receiver Tavarres King, sidelined with a strained hamstring in bowl practices on campus, pronounced himself feeling “good” prior to the team’s first Orlando practice. Georgia players ate dinner at the team hotel after arriving.
The team was scheduled to hold a light closed practice Wednesday night at a local high school.
“I got the rest over the break, got my hammy right,” King said. “Hopefully I can go out there and do everything I normally do on a practice day.”
The team is scheduled to practice again this morning.
“We pretty much have the whole gameplan in right now unless coach (Mike) Bobo changed it over the break,” quarterback Aaron Murray said.
This and that
Murray on his NFL decision: “I’m not making any decision or saying anything until after this game and want to sit down with my parents and discuss it from there,” he said.
The team will visit Universal Studios Thursday afternoon. Nebraska players are slated to visit Disney World.