TIREY: Jenkins already a Lexingtonian

The upcoming football season for the University of Kentucky couldn't come soon enough for Ventrell Jenkins. The defensive end out of South Carolina signed with Rich Brooks in the last recruiting class. Ventrell moved to Lexington recently to take advantage of individual workouts, and to take advantage of the NCAA rule change that allows incoming freshmen to enroll and take summer classes at the school for which they are going to play.

The upcoming football season for the University of Kentucky couldn't come soon enough for Ventrell Jenkins. The defensive end out of South Carolina signed with Rich Brooks in the last recruiting class. Ventrell moved to Lexington recently to take advantage of individual workouts, and to take advantage of the NCAA rule change that allows incoming freshmen to enroll and take summer classes at the school for which they are going to play. That gives incoming students a leg up on academic issues and a chance to get used to the college atmosphere without all the pressures of the fall semester and football practice hitting at the same time.

"When I came up on my recruiting visit," said Ventrell, "I met with Johnny Williams and another player that got started early, and they told me the advantages that it held for them, and I just wanted those same advantages. So I just came up early, and took advantage of the rule."

There had been a question of whether or not Ventrell would be eligible for the upcoming season. He put those fears to rest, right away, when I talked to him recently. Defensive end is a sore spot for Kentucky as far as depth goes. The Cats just do not have enough bodies returning to fill all the spots. So the freshmen coming in will get a great opportunity to get a lot of playing time. At 6'2" and 270 pounds, Jenkins sees playing time right in front of him and is eager to grab hold. "I've just been watching film," said Jenkins. "I've been getting my body ready to move from the high school level to the college level. Talking to some of the players, I heard that is a big skip. So I'm just getting my running in, eating better, and just doing what I got to do to step it up on the next level." What has he been working on the most? "I've upped my running level a little more. The first thing they tell me, every time I ask them what the biggest difference from high school to college, they tell me everybody's faster. I may be running a 4.5 or 4.6 [40 yd dash], and the lineman in front of me may be just as fast. So, they said just up my running. I'm lifting and squatting, too."

Ventrell has been hearing the comparisons of him to the only Wildcat to get drafted in this year's NFL draft, Vincent "Sweet Pea" Burns. That's fine with him. "I'll be out sometimes, and people mistake me for Sweet Pea. Being compared to him, that's not really bad. I know them personally, and they are not bad people. They're real friendly and nice people. I love those type of compliments."

When I asked Jenkins what he was looking forward to the most in the upcoming season, his answer took me a bit by surprise. "Every incoming freshman looks forward to their first game. But I'm mainly looking forward to October 8, when we play the University of South Carolina." I knew being from South Carolina would give some incentive for that game, but for Jenkins it goes a bit deeper than that. "I just feel like I have a big point to prove. I play one of my former teammates, who is probably one of the best running backs in South Carolina, so I just feel I got a lot to prove in that game." Jenkins is referring to Mike Davis, who chose South Carolina over Clemson and UK. "I talked to him a couple of weeks ago, and we talked about the recruiting process. He said he was really, REALLY, considering going to Kentucky. I wanted to play with him, but then again, I wanted to play against him, you know? It all worked out." It all worked out for Kentucky, too. Look for Jenkins to make an impact this year at defensive end.


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