UGA’s Richt: Jarvis Jones nation’s best player

ATHENS - Granted, he’s not exactly an unbiased analyst. But if you ask Georgia coach Mark Richt, the nation’s best college football player is on his team.

“I can’t think of a better player than Jarvis (Jones) in the whole United States of America,” said Richt, wrapping up his weekly news conference Tuesday. “He’s the best.”

A few minutes earlier, Richt had allowed that Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o “is a great player as well. They might be, like, equally great, and they are both so important to their team.” But the more he thought and talked about it, the more Richt endorsed the Georgia linebacker as The Best.

“Jarvis is a pretty dynamic player to have the pass-rush ability and the ability to drop back and make the (interception),” Richt said, “or to be the guy who stops the run two or three yards back in the backfield. Just stones somebody who is trying to block him and makes the play right there.”

Jones ranks No. 1 in the nation in tackles for loss (2.33 per game), No. 1 in forced fumbles (.83 per game) and No. 2 in sacks (1.42 per game). In last week’s victory over Florida, he had three sacks, forced two fumbles and recovered two fumbles.

“His stats are really impressive, but when you watch him play it’s equally impressive,” Richt said. “I think he’s the best player in America.”

Richt alluded to his news-conference comments when he crossed paths with Jones later in the afternoon.

“He told me he spoke highly of me today,” said Jones, who has received several player of week honors. “Coach Richt … knows I’d do anything for my team that is positive. I try to stick my neck out every chance I get to make us a better bunch.”

- Chip Towers of the AJC staff