ACC Preseason Top 25 Players of 2012: #7, Brandon Jenkins

Florida State’s Brandon Jenkins is #7 on Our Countdown of the ACC’s Top 25 Players for 2012

As part of our 2012 season preview, we’re counting down the top 25 players in the ACC for this season, from 25 to one. Obviously these lists are always completely subjective, so feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts in the comments.

No. 7,  Brandon Jenkins, DE/Florida State

Should Florida State regain the might it possessed from 1987 through 2003, it’ll likely be accomplished through the defense. In 2012, it’s a senior unit occupied by nine returning starters — stunning for a group that only allowed 15.1 points per game last season. The centerpiece of the defense is its line, and specifically, our featured player today, senior DE Brandon Jenkins.

An active pass-rusher (all part of the FSU scheme), Jenkins collected eight sacks and 12 tackles for loss last season. And even though those figures were among the best in the ACC, they still ended up amounting to a “disappointing” year for Jenkins (coming off a breakout 2010). For the senior, who lacks the size and strength of many NFL-caliber ends, he excels on speed and aggression. His 4.59 40-yard dash time may not scream “elite,” but his nice burst off the line is still a huge advantage. Repeating their strong effort from last year, the ‘Noles defensive front traces directly back to Jenkins success. Even if he fails to get the ball-carrier, his ability attracts attention away from teammates and opens up easy lanes for tackles.

When not getting after the runner, Jenkins (as stated above) still makes a huge impact on the game, seen as one of the team’s leaders in a group full of veterans. It’s this perception that’s gotten him named to the respective watch lists for the Nagurski, Bednarik and Lombardi awards. And even with all the attention directed his way, the senior still manages to stay incredibly focused, humble and team-oriented just the same. When asked about NFL aspirations, he told the Miami Herald last week:

“That’s the thing, you can’t let that get ahead of you, I have team goals first, ACC championship, national championship. Then once you do all that, then that’s when I’ll think about the NFL.”

If he can keep that mindset over the next four months, it’s tough to imagine how Jenkins won’t find himself playing in a BCS game this January, and then on Sundays next fall.

Previously:

#8, E.J. Manuel, QB/Florida State

#9, Andre Ellington, RB/Clemson

#10, Ray Graham, RB/Pittsburgh

#11, Kevin Reddick, LB/North Carolina

#12, Conner Vernon, WR/Duke

#13, Joe Vellano, DT/Maryland

#14, Steve Greer, LB/Virginia

#15, Tanner Price, QB/Wake Forest

#16, Omoregie Uzzi, OG/Georgia Tech

#17, Merrill Noel, CB/Wake Forest

#18, Kyle Fuller, CB/Virginia Tech

#19, Bryn Renner, QB/North Carolina

#20, Dalton Freeman, C/Clemson

#21, Aaron Donald, DT/Pittsburgh

#22, Kevin Pierre-Louis, LB/Boston College

#23, Justin Pugh, OT/Syracuse

#24: Bruce Taylor, LB/Virginia Tech

#25: Jeremiah Attaochu, LB/Georgia Tech

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