He is last on Clemson's numerical roster but, first off, resident history buff Jarvis Jenkins has been one of the best college football players of the 2010 season.
South Carolina's coaches and offensive linemen know. Clemson lost the game but mammoth No. 99 won most of his battles against the Gamecocks. Quietly, in the dark cloud of a 29-7 debacle on Nov. 27 and in the shadow of consensus All-American Da'Quan Bowers all season, the 6-4, 310-pound Jenkins has been steady enough to rise into the first few rounds of NFL mock drafts.
Off the field, his friendship with Bowers gives Jenkins value well beyond statistics.
"He's always had a dynamic personality," coach Dabo Swinney said of his senior defensive tackle, a Clemson native. "He's fun to be around and all that. But he's really gotten serious about the game. He's grown into a leader. He has come to play every single week."
The best part?
Jenkins wants a grand Tiger finale. He hopes to improve his draft stock, aiming for top 15 status with stellar showings on Dec. 31 against South Florida in the Meineke Car Care Bowl, and later at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., and at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.
"You always want to get in that first round," Jenkins said. "I just have to stay focused and do what I've been taught to do all year."
Exhibit A: Clemson held its foes to one touchdown apiece in six straight games before facing South Carolina, which scored two touchdowns on offense, one on a 5-yard drive.
Marcus Lattimore, the Gamecocks' fabulous freshman, gained 48 yards on 23 carries. The Gamecocks had their hands full double-teaming Bowers on most plays, Jenkins on some and trying to counter the powerful push of nose tackle Brandon Thompson.
Auburn obviously studied the Clemson tape, similarly blasting South Carolina center T.J. Johnson on first and second downs to effectively disrupt Lattimore's favorite zone read plays in the decisive early going of the SEC Championship Game.
"We just stayed in our gaps," Jenkins said. "That guy, Marcus Lattimore, has the best vision I've seen all year. Most of the teams he ran well against had busted assignments and if you miss an assignment, he'll see that and hit that hole for 50 or 60 yards. But we did a great job of not leaving our feet. It was all about quickness and causing penetration in the run lanes."
Bowers as the nation's sack leader gets well-deserved attention; the just-completed Tour Da'Quan featured a whirlwind circuit including the Bronko Nagurski Award, given to college football's top defensive player.
Which is all fine with Jenkins.
Both made the All-Atlantic Coast Conference first team.
"Da'Quan is All-World, man. That's great," Jenkins said. "I knew he could play like he's played this year. I told him, 'Once you come out of that shell, you will have that breakout year.' And look what he accomplished once he got focused. Da'Quan playing good helps me, also."
The feeling is mutual, and then some.
"Jarvis has been like a brother. He's always been a leader to me here," said Bowers, a junior from Bamberg. "I'm very proud of the way he's played this year and I would say half the plays I've made have been because of Jarvis and Brandon Thompson."
Bowers' father Dennis and Jenkins' father Larry were close, too. They watched Clemson games together for two seasons. After Mr. Bowers died in August, Da'Quan began spending more time with Larry Jenkins and calling him "Pops."
Mentoring runs in the family. Jarvis Jenkins upon completion of a football career might pursue a career in helping vulnerable teens.
"There is a lack of African-American guidance counselors," Jenkins said. "I want to help kids from all races, not just to go to college but to stay in college."
A graduate of Daniel High School, Jenkins was recruited by offensive line coach Brad Scott and had a sack in his first game as a true freshman - against Florida State. A Sociology major, he relaxes by watching The History Channel. Favorite show: "Modern Marvels."
"I'm not much of a video game guy," Jenkins said. "I'm kind of a weird guy that way, but I really learn a lot from watching that stuff."
Back to the future, recent history indicates Clemson's overlooked No. 99 will continue to move up on present-day NFL draft lists.