GAINESVILLE — After several weeks of speculation about his future with the Gators, Florida CB Janoris Jenkins announced Monday that he has decided to return for his senior season. Jenkins appeared in all 12 regular-season games this season but missed the Outback Bowl after shoulder surgery.
"After careful consideration, I've made a decision to return … for my senior year," Jenkins said. "I spent some time with my family and Coach (Will) Muschamp and came to the conclusion it was in my best interest to return. 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 toward my degree, completing my rehab and getting back on the field with my teammates.''
Jenkins is a major asset for the Gators and first-year coach Muschamp.
A three-year starter, Jenkins has eight career interceptions, including three this past season when he was named first-team All-SEC by the Associated Press.
Jenkins had his first career interception return for a touchdown in the 2010 opener against Miami (Ohio) and was also UF's leading punt returner, with 18 for 150 yards (8.3 average).
"I'm excited that Janoris has made a decision to come back to school," Muschamp said. "I would have supported him in whatever decision he made, but I commend him for making a mature decision. It would have been real easy … to make an emotional choice and leave early, but with our contacts in the NFL, we were able to assist him in understanding his draft status, and he made an educated decision that will be beneficial to him in the long term."
Meanwhile, junior S Will Hill announced he will enter the draft.
GATORS AND VOLS: Florida will be in Tennessee tonight to take on the Vols, who are playing without their coach. Bruce Pearl has been suspended for the first eight conference games for NCAA violations, a situation that has Gator players sympathizing.
"That's pretty tough,'' senior C Vernon Macklin said. "At this level, head college coaches like Coach (Billy) Donovan and Coach Pearl are very strong, and you see them on the sidelines coaching people up, and it helps you a lot. I can only imagine for the Tennessee players looking to the sidelines and not having their head coach, it's pretty tough for them. But I'm pretty sure they'll come out and play hard no matter who's coaching.''
BACK ON TRACK: The defending NCAA Indoor Champion men's track and field team is ranked No. 1 in the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Poll, and the Gators will open the season this weekend at the Nittany Lion Challenge at Penn State. NCAA 100-meter indoor champion Jeff Demps will not participate in the meet, but coach Mike Holloway said it's not because of the foot injury that hampered him most of the football season. "Jeff has never run in the first competition, so our goal with Jeff is we're going to take it day by day and see how he progresses,'' Holloway said. "He's doing fine right now. Our goal is for him to open up in the middle of the season like he did last year. He's come off a long football season. He's human, and I'm not just going to throw him out there when he's not quite prepared for it just yet.''
TICKETS ON SALE: The Gator ticket office is accepting 2011 season-ticket orders. Current ticket holders can order this week at gatorzone.com/tickets. The deadline is March 30. Fans ordering for the first time must pay the season-ticket price of $259 per ticket plus a booster contribution. To learn more about the ordering process or 2011 policies and procedures, go to gatorzone.com/tickets and download the 2011 Football Season Ticket Brochure or call 1-800-344-2867, Ext. 6800, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.
Antonya English can be reached at email@example.com.