JACKSONVILLE, Fla. ‚Äî When Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones lined up against Florida for the first time in his career on Saturday at EverBank Field, he could hear former Gators coach Urban Meyer‚Äôs voice.
Each time he hurried Gators quarterback John Brantley, before each of his four sacks and as he forced a second-quarter fumble that led to a Georgia touchdown, he heard the former Gators coach‚Äôs recruiting pitch.
If you decide to sign with the Bulldogs rather than the Gators, we will beat you every year you are there, Jones recalled Meyer saying.
‚ÄúI had that in the back of my mind all day today,‚Äù Jones said. ‚ÄúA lot of the guys on the team did as well. I‚Äôm just glad we came here and got the job done.‚Äù
Meyer may be history at Florida, replaced by first-year head coach Will Muschamp, but his presence was evident through the play of Georgia‚Äôs redshirt sophomore linebacker, who doubled his season sack total by bringing down Brantley four times.
Jones ‚Äî who in high school chose to sign with Southern California instead of Georgia or Florida and then spent his freshman season with the Trojans ‚Äî said he was eager to make an impression in his first Georgia-Florida game and was able to make an impact because of the time he spent in the film room and in part due to defensive coordinator Todd Grantham‚Äôs preparations.
‚ÄúI was watching film, and I caught a couple of their weaknesses,‚Äù Jones said. ‚ÄúAnd coach Grantham gave us their weaknesses, so I just made it my vision that I was going to use it against them. I knew what they were doing, so if it was going to help us make plays, I was going to do it.‚Äù
From his first days at Georgia, Jones has drawn praise from coaches, and with his performance on Saturday, has established himself among the program‚Äôs best and most promising at the position.
‚ÄúHe is probably the most complete linebacker we‚Äôve had since I‚Äôve been here,‚Äù Grantham said of Jones. ‚ÄúHe‚Äôs a guy who works his tail off to be a more complete linebacker. And he‚Äôs still a young player. This is his first year in our system, and once he gets more acclimated with what we‚Äôre doing, I think the sky is the limit for how good he can be.‚Äù
There may be room left to improve, but for Saturday, Jones said he was pleased right where he was.
‚ÄúIt was my first Florida game, and I had four sacks,‚Äù Jones said. ‚ÄúI mean, could you ask for more?‚Äù