Centerline: A 3-year starter, Jenkins is anchor of Wildcats' O-line
Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor

Sept. 6, 2006 - The Wildcat scout team receivers weren't doing a satisfactory job of blocking Tuesday afternoon, so a volunteer came off the sideline.

Starting center Jacob Jenkins approached a coach and volunteered to take a receiver's spot despite the fact that he is the senior member of the team - and scout team duty is a thankless job.

"I'll go in and block," Jenkins said. "You don't even have to throw me the ball. I'll just block."

That attitude is one of the reasons he is a three-year starter.

Jenkins is the anchor of the Wildcats' offensive line that has four new starters, all seniors. He has started and played every down at center since he was a sophomore.

To coaches and teammates, it's apparent why.

"Jenko has been heaven-sent for me, especially being my first year here," said offensive line coach David Carrillo. 'He's my quarterback. He knows every scheme, he knows what everybody is supposed to be doing. He's a leader, very dependable and energetic. He's a coach's dream."

Jenkins has been Second Team All-District as a sophomore and junior, years in which the offense set school records in virtually every category.

With Jenkins and wide receiver Tyler Rhoades as the only returning starters, the offensive production won't likely match that of past years, but Jenkins is determined it won't be because of the offensive line.

The top six linemen are all seniors, but none of the other five had started a varsity game before last Friday and most did not play in a varsity game last year. It's a switch after the Wildcats graduated three All-State linemen the last two seasons including Iowa State freshman Jose Vargas and Arkansas Tech freshman Torrence Wright last year.

"It's definitely different, but I'm glad to be back with these guys because I haven't played with most of them since my freshman year," Jenkins said. "They're my classmates. It's starting to jell because we hung out a lot this summer and made that a priority. We did a good job of bonding and getting to know each other better. We're starting to jell on the field."

Cohesiveness is very important on the offensive line, so that it's not five individual members who are blocking but one big organism.

"It's a team aspect, it's not just one person. You've got to have everybody together on one page," Jenkins said. "Once you get that team aspect down, it's fun. You don't have to worry about missing an assignment because you know your buddy will be there."

The good thing about Jenkins is that his teammates know he will be there. He has been a mainstay at the summer workouts since he came to high school, and he's a member of the powerlifting team. Carrillo said Jenkins is the first one to show up for film sessions.

"I think Jenko's best asset is his drive and energy to keep going and get better," Carrillo said. "He tries to get better every day. His enthusiasm and energy is just awesome because he's like that every day, trying to get better."

That work ethic has helped get him noticed by colleges at several different levels, and he's like to play collegiate football as much as he likes to dove hunt. He's considering becoming a coach after that.

"Hopefully, I can get a scholarship," Jenkins admitted. "I just want to play. I don't care if I have to go to a JUCO or wherever. To get a free education and play football - that's two things that I'd love."

In the meantime, he'll continue to do what he does - play football for the Wildcats. He wouldn't have it any other way.

"Just having this time with each other and spending Friday nights with your best friends," he said, "there's nothing like it."

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