Jordan Jenkins about more than football


HAMILTON, Ga. -- Before a Friday morning pep rally at Hamilton (Ga.) Harris County that saw Jordan Jenkins crowned homecoming king in the Harris County gymnasium, the ESPNU 150 defensive end was presented with his jersey for the Under Armour All-America Game.

It was part of the 80-stop American Family Insurance presents the Under Armour All-America Game selection tour.

"This means a lot to me," Jenkins said. "Ever since I woke up this morning I have not been able to stop smiling. I feel so honored to have an opportunity to play in this game, and just to see this presentation in front of my high school is so overwhelming. Like I said I can't stop smiling about it."

Jenkins' journey is a long and winding path, one that saw his family move several times while his father served in the Army. From Washington to Texas to California to South Carolina to Alaska, the Jenkins household has maintained a sense of stability within their nomadic lifestyle.

"It starts in the home," Phyleshia Lee-Jenkins, Jenkins' mom, said. "My husband and I have strived to provide a positive support system for him, and just let him fluorish naturally. By providing a structured environment, it has allowed Jordan to thrive and really I do not think it could have happened to a better kid."

Those attributes installed in Jenkins from a young age are easily apparent in the 6-foot-3, 247-pounder, and it that rare combination of physical talent as a pass rusher and natural maturity that attracted dozens of college recruiters.

"His competitiveness is what separates him from others who may have similar size and speed, but lack that fire and ability to keep that motor running," Harris County coach Tommy Parks said. "Jordan loves to practice, and you just never see him take time off. That is the quickest way to waste talent. How many times do you hear coaches talk about what guys could have been, or athletes that do not make it? Its because they are lacking that mental toughness required, and obviously I think Jordan has that."

The Harris County community has seen the physical development take off for Jenkins since he started on varsity in ninth grade. His impressive athletic ability has earned Jenkins a nickname typically given to only a few select athletes, and it is one that the college staffs in his top five  Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia and Tennessee -- all use for the No. 61 prospect in the country as well.

"They all call me 'Freak' here, and I want to uphold the nickname and show that I am worthy of being called that and proving them right in choosing that for me," Jenkins said. "It is so funny to see these serious-minded coaches say something so relaxed."

Jordan's love of the game comes from his sheer enjoyment of making tackles behind the line of scrimmage by throwing his body in the direction of whoever is holding the ball.

"Football is the best sport in the world, and it's the only one where you can run full speed and hit someone and not get a foul," Jenkins said. "You just have to have that swagger to play this game, and there is not a greater feeling than coming off the edge and bringing down the quarterback. It is man to man, me and the offensive lineman in front of me, and that just is just a great feeling."

With Jenkins' father, Ronald, having gone through this process as a defensive end, the family has been able to differentiate between who wants Jenkins simply as a player, and who has that same structured home environment coupled with the willingness to develop him as a productive young man to society along with being a great football player. Both Jenkins and his family note the importance of finding a program that makes his personal and physical development a priority.

"I want to feel like I can confide in a coach and have a similar relationship to what I have in my family," Jenkins said. "My dad is strict in my life and my mom is also strict in some things, so I am used to having authority figures in my life that I am supposed to respect. They are there for a reason, so I just make sure to respect the teachers and coaches and all of the adults in my life."

But as he donned his Under Armour All-American jersey on Friday, the question remains as to which uniform Jenkins will be wearing come next fall. His parents think their son has a pretty good idea, but nothing will be certain until all five official visits are concluded.

"I think he has his definite leaders, but I also think there is still a long way to go in his decision process," Ronald Jenkins said. "There are things he has to evaluate like playing time, whether he feels more comfortable as a linebacker or as a defensive end."

Still, while he won't admit if he's leaning one way or another, some schools seem to stand out.

"At Alabama and Florida, I get a great feeling as soon as I step on campus, and I have a great feeling with the staffs there that allows me to be really comfortable in my surroundings," Jenkins said.

Following a recent unofficial visit, there may be a third favorite emerging.

"There might be a school or two that has moved up, but I want to take all of my visits so I do not keep moving it around and upsetting the fans," Jenkins said. "I think Auburn has a good shot to move up. When I went up there I had a good time, and Coach [Gene] Chizik pointed out some things that I really have to think about. I do not know if Alabama or Florida will move down after my visits."

Jenkins sees the officials as a chance to give each program an opportunity to make one last pitch for his signature. But the Hamilton area standout also acknowledges the possibility of a school hurting their own chances by not maintaining what he liked previously about the program.

"When I take my visits, I want to give each school another chance to maybe show me something I may have missed," said Jenkins, who hopes to announce during the UA Game or sometime around signing day. "Or see if the things I liked before are still there, while also continuing to build upon my relationships with the coaches at each school so that I can make a better decision."

Kipp Adams has covered University of Georgia recruiting since 2006. He can be reached at KippAdamsESPN@gmail.com or on Twitter @KippLAdams.