Sam Webb and Kyle Bogenschutz contributed to this story.
Already holding an offer from Michigan heading into his junior year at Pittsburgh (Pa.) Baldwin high school, 2015 offensive tackle Sterling Jenkins and his father made their way to Ann Arbor to take in the Wolverines campus for the very first time during the recruiting process.
Standing a towering 6-foot-8, 305-pounds, Jenkins picked the perfect weekend to visit the Maize & Blue, ready to eat and enjoy a plethora of delicious food for the Big House barbecue.
“We showed up and me and my dad were kind of lost so we called coach Funk who took us to the athletic center,” Jenkins told GoBlueWolverine. “We sat down and they told us about the academic side, academic support, and talked to us briefly about things they believe in. I met coach Hoke.
“We got on the bus and then walked around to see some of the buildings. We went inside the weight room and just checked everything out in general. After that we ate, and they told us more about Michigan and how much it was a great place to be at. And then we went to see the Big House. And then we left.”
Also holding offers from Arizona, Ohio State, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Temple, Tennessee, Virginia, Virginia Tech and West Virginia, Jenkins, when asked to rate his Michigan visit on a scale from one to 10, gave the Wolverines high marks.
“I would say, I’m not good with these 1 to 10 scales because I always underestimate it,” he said. “But I would say it was an 8 or 9ish.
Jenkins ability to fully utilize his body to maul oncoming defenders in the run game or frustrate edge pass rushers looking to get out of his grasp has Michigan extremely interested in adding him to their 2015 class. Fortunately for both sides, the football field isn’t the only aspect being evaluated, and Jenkins walked away from his time in Ann Arbor very impressed with the opportunities offered off the field at Michigan as well.
“It was interesting because they were talking about -- one of the big points that they brought up was the networking,” Jenkins said. “That the former CEO of Dominoes, that he is the athletic director -- and just in general, all the people that could help you further in your life past football.
“I thought that was pretty interesting. They said they challenge you on the field and off the field, and I think that’s something that I’m looking for. If you can do it in both ways, that’s something that’s really special.”
Eager to further strengthen a bond with Michigan offensive line coach Darrell Funk, Jenkins and his father spent plenty of time getting to know the man that could be coaching him someday.
“I’d definitely say it (our relationship) got better today,” Jenkins said. “At first, it was just like he would come and tell me ‘Oh, I want you to come up to Michigan for camp’, and that kind of thing; but today it was more like asking questions about Michigan and getting to know the staff better, and getting to know more about the program. So I think it really helped out our relationship.”
The prototypical size of a left tackle at the division one level, Jenkins says he could be a right tackle at Michigan, protecting the blind side of current freshman quarterback Shane Morris who is left-handed.
Jenkins was able to spend time with some of Michigan’s current commitments in the classes of 2014 and 2015 Sunday, including Chase Winovich, Michael Ferns, Mason Cole, George Campbell and Wilton Speight. The crew had their recruiting hats on and ready to go throughout the day.
“I was talking to Mason and George, and they were just telling me -- I was like, it seemed to me like the biggest selling point for them, what really brought them into Michigan, was that it was like a big family,” Jenkins said.
“(I had) some of my friends up there, like Mike Ferns and Chase Winovich -- Chase is from Pittsburgh as well, and I think it was pretty interesting to see them up there, and have people that I already know on the team. So that’s definitely going to be a big factor in my decision.”
Previously making a trip to Penn State this summer for a barbecue with the Nittany Lions, Jenkins wouldn’t tip his hand as to which trip made a stronger impression, food or otherwise. One thing Jenkins is certain of, he’ll be taking his time with the recruiting process, giving full evaluations to any and all interested in his ability on the field and in the classroom.
“I don’t really have top schools,” Jenkins said. “I’m trying to stay -- like, overall I’m neutral, but I really like the coaches at Michigan, and I like the recruits, and I think that’s something I can build off of if I went there.”