TALLAHASSEE -- A lot has changed for Brandon Jenkins since he joined the Florida State Seminoles a little more than three years ago.
Now a rising senior, Jenkins arrived at Florida State during the final year of a decline that saw the Seminoles perennially powerful defense ranked 96th nationally in Bobby Bowdens last season under then-coordinator Mickey Andrews.
Jenkins has been present as Jimbo Fisher and new defensive coordinator Mark Stoops have overhauled a defensive line that was once a band of undersized pass-rushers and turned it into a Southeastern Conference-style unit that finished second only to national champion Alabama in run defense in 2011.
And despite the turmoil and turnover, Jenkins has been one of the Seminoles best defenders the past couple of seasons. Many were surprised to see the Tallahassee native come back for his senior season. After notching 21 1/2 sacks in two seasons, the 6-3, 260-pound defensive end had a chance to be a high pick in the NFL Draft.
Instead, he returns with a new number (Jenkins is switching from 49 to 4 this year) and a personal mission to help mentor the young freshmen and win something big.
After finishing second in run defense and eighth in sacks in 2011, FSU brought in four blue-chip defensive linemen this past offseason, including the nations top defensive end (Mario Edwards Jr.) and defensive tackle (Eddie Goldman).
The Seminoles hope the infusion of talent makes an already established unit even better.
Were teaching them well; theyre further along the first week than I ever was, said Jenkins, a preseason second team All-American. Theyre learning to use their hands, technique, coming off the ball. Were trying to do our best to teach them before we leave, me and Bjoern [Werner].
Before I leave I just want to do my best to teach them the things that I learned.
Jenkins and Werner, a junior end who arrived from Germany with little football experience, have turned into arguably the best pass-rushing tandem in the country. Last year, they combined for 15 sacks. This season, the two are looking for more.
Oh, you know, [Bjoern and I] just compete every day to try to make each other better, Jenkins said. We try to fight, we see who can get to [quarterback] EJ [Manuel] first, and we just make each other better. It rubs off.
Its likely both could head to the NFL after the season. But Jenkins isnt thinking about playing on Sundays just yet. Hes locked in on Saturdays right now.
Thats the thing, you cant let that get ahead of you, I have team goals first, ACC championship, national championship, Jenkins said. Then once you do all that, then thats when Ill think about the NFL.