Player capsule: Ryan Jenkins
Position: Wide receiver
Weight: 196 pounds
2016 season quick review: After transferring away from Tennessee following the 2014 season, Jenkins arrived at Arizona State in 2015 as a walk-on. The Marietta, Georgia native sat out his first campaign with the Sun Devils, but took the field for the first time in 2016 and recorded two receptions for 13 yards in four games. Jenkins began the season at the bottom of ASU's wide receiver depth chart, but the Sun Devils' injury situation coupled with Jenkins' persistence and desire to improve helped him record his first two receptions in an ASU jersey.
SunDevilSource.com analysis: Jenkins took a unique route to get to ASU, but it appears as though his dedication may finally pay off this fall as Jenkins is one of the top walk-ons on the roster and has made a strong case that he deserves a scholarship.
After giving up the opportunity to continue his career as a scholarship player at Tennessee, Jenkins could have dropped down a level, attempted to play at a non-Power Five school or even tried to go the junior college route, but instead, Jenkins elected to enroll at ASU and earn a spot on the Sun Devils' roster.
The road hasn't been easy for Jenkins, who isn't nearly as athletic as the majority of the scholarship skill position players on the Sun Devils' roster, but thanks to his determination and his consistent practice habits, Jenkins is doing everything in his power to impact the depth chart heading into his senior season.
What Jenkins lacks in agility and explosiveness, he makes up for with his precision and attention to detail. After an early spring practice, one ASU receiver told SunDevilSource Jenkins was the best route runner on the team, and first-year receivers' coach Rob Likens has certainly taken notice of the way Jenkins approaches the craft.
Likens told us Jenkins is a natural at taking a coaching point from the wide receiver meeting room or the offensive film room and translating that point on the field, which is why Likens allowed Jenkins to take first team reps with ASU's offense early this spring.
Likens spent much of the spring harping on the way he expects ASU's receivers to get in and out of their breaks, and he often used Jenkins as an example of a player who was executing the steps on each route properly. Though Jenkins isn't going to blow anyone away with his speed, he's a technician at the receiver position who understands the importance of body placement and positioning.
While Jenkins has a low ceiling as a receiver because of his athleticism, he's a solid depth option for the Sun Devils and a player ASU's coaching staff should have a growing level of confidence in. Jenkins has helped his cause each year he's been in the program, and entering his senior season, he's reached the point where he should be considered a serviceable backup as both an outside receiver and as a slot.
Thanks to a stockier build and a strong understanding of ASU's offensive scheme, Jenkins gives the Sun Devils flexibility because he can play multiple positions, handle blocking assignments in the run game, and execute exactly what's needed when he's called upon.
Projected depth chart status: Even though Jenkins took first-team reps at the X-receiver position at various points this spring, it's unlikely he'll find himself near the top of ASU's rotation this fall. We anticipate Jenkins to play behind sophomores N'Keal Harry and Terrell Chatman at the X-position, but Jenkins can also provide depth at the H-position behind junior Jalen Harvey and sophomore Ryan Newsome if ASU sees that spot as a better fit. A few years ago, Jenkins likely would have had an opportunity to earn more meaningful playing time because ASU was short-handed at the receiver position, but now, the receiver unit is one of the deepest groups on the team and the Sun Devils are loaded with young talent at all three spots. The main question facing Jenkins this fall is whether or not he'll be able to break into the rotation as a fifth or sixth receiver, or if he'll be relegated to the bottom of the depth chart and forced to find a different way to contribute. At the very least, Jenkins has done almost everything he possibly can to make a convincing case that he can help ASU's offense, which could wind up helping him earn a scholarship in August.