Jenkins Ready to Focus

Junior wide receiver Darnell Jenkins returned to practice Tuesday, after missing the first week of spring practice for academic purposes. His return was not the way he wanted to start the spring. Jenkins dropped numerous easy passes during the first two days.

"It was a lack of focus," Jenkins said. "I was focusing on things that I should not have been, and I was not playing football."

The coaches had not seen this behavior from Jenkins before.

"Coach Coker and C.J. were surprised because they had never seen me practice that way," Jenkins said. "I had to get back to football shape and focus on football, because I was focusing on my schoolwork. I should have been out here with the rest of the team from day one."

The week was particularly frustrating for Jenkins because he had an outstanding off-season. Many of his teammates were impressed with his play during the 7-on-7 drills.

"He is just on a whole other level," cornerback Devin Hester said. "I think he is going to break out."

Jenkins attributes his play during the off-season to his new playing weight. Last season the receiver played at 190 pounds. As of now, Jenkins is 180 pounds and feels faster and quicker.

"It is hard for the DB's to stay with my when I open up," he said.

Jenkins is ready to prove himself this season after finishing third on the team in receptions last year with 21. He also had 230 receiving yards and scored one touchdown.

"I got to take it to the next level, I have not proven anything," Jenkins said. "I am just trying to be the best. If I am the best then Kyle Wright and Kirby Freeman feel more comfortable getting me the ball and the running backs feel more comfortable running my way, knowing I am going to block for them."

Jenkins, now a junior, is looking to take on more of a leadership role this season.

"I look at myself as a big leader," Jenkins said. "A lot of players look up to me. Together we can accomplish success. It takes leadership for a team to be good. There is a lot of leaders on this team and I am a big part of that. Everyone knows what I can do. Everyone believes in me and I believe in myself."

This spring Jenkins wants to improve his releases, route-running and his focus. Jenkins turned in a solid performance during Thursday's scrimmage. He finished with two receptions for 22 yards.

Jenkins likes what he sees from the young quarterbacks so far. Both of the quarterbacks bring a running ability, a skill that has been missing from Miami's quarterbacks the last few years.

"Kirby brings the defense up, because he can run with the ball, Jenkins said. "He is just an athlete that has good accuracy and can throw hard. Kyle Wright, just reads the field. He knows the receivers and he can also move. Those two quarterbacks are a big threat. That helps the receivers because the DB's do not know if they should come up or drop back into zone."

From a team standpoint, Jenkins was encouraged with the performance on Thursday night.

"Practice went really good," Jenkines said. "The offense moved the ball. The defense played hard. We pushed each other and showed energy out there tonight."

Now that Jenkins is practicing again, look for him to continue to improve and become a force at wide receiver next season.

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