Bucknuts Magazine Excerpts: "Always the Hunter"

As of spring ball, the Buckeyes were still looking to fill an open spot at cornerback. Could incoming freshman Malcolm Jenkins provide a boost? In today's version of Excerpts from Bucknuts the Magazine, you'll find that it sounds like he is going to be ready to give it a try. This article is written by Charles Babb and was published in the March 2005 issue and can be read in its entirety.

As part of the redesign of the Bucknuts.com web site, we have added an area where we can publish excerpts from Bucknuts The Magazine. Each week, we will put in a new excerpt from the latest edition of Bucknuts The Magazine.

BTM has evolved from humble beginnings as a 32-page magazine into its current format as an 80-page magazine. It is published 10 times a year (monthly from September through April, then once in the Spring and Summer).

The magazine retails for $4.95 on newsstands. We also sell annual subscriptions to the magazine on the Internet for $39.95.

But the best deal going is our annual subscription bundle. For $99.95, you get a full year of BTM as well as access to all of the premium content and message boards on Bucknuts.com. Subscriptions to the web site, itself, are priced at $9.95 per month. So, for roughly $100 you receive the value of almost $160 between the web site and magazine.

In each issue of Bucknuts The Magazine, we have in-depth features on Ohio State football players, coaches and prospects. We also have analysis pieces on the Buckeyes as well as their opponents, the Big Ten and college football world in general. Plus, we have features on OSU athletes in a variety of sports, including men's and women's basketball, hockey, wrestling, baseball and other sports.

The Spring edition (Ted Ginn Jr. on the cover) is on newsstands now. Our Summer Issue, the 2005 Football Preview issue, will be available in mid-June. New subscribers will begin their subscription with the first issue after the Summer Issue.

This week's excerpt is a reprint of an entire story from the March 2005 issue. This story is on soon-to-be Buckeye CB Malclom Jenkins. The story was written by Charles Babb:

Headline: Always The Hunter

By Charles Babb

Malcolm Jenkins might not be considered the most prized recruit in the incoming freshman class, but don't be surprised if he turns out to be a serious player.

A cornerback from Piscataway (N.J.) Township, Jenkins has the size and measurables coaches drool over. At 6-1, he weighs in at 190 pounds and runs a respectable 4.43-second 40-yard dash. You've heard that before, you say? It does in fact seem like every recruit in the country runs either a 4.4 or a 4.5. When is the last time you saw even an offensive or defensive lineman admit they run under a 5.2?

However, Jenkins' speed is legitimate.

"When I started running track as a freshman, I had never run it before and was running just to get in shape," Jenkins said. "I wound up being good and was on the 4x400 relay as a freshman. We broke the school record. Last year, I placed sixth in the state for the 400. I look forward to this spring."

In fact, in 400-meter events, Jenkins clocks times in the neighborhood of 47 to 49 seconds and blazes a 21.7 in the 200. Perhaps that is not Olympic gold medal or even Ted Ginn, Jr. speed, but it certainly is more than sufficient to play cornerback. His production backs up this claim as he snatched nine interceptions, had 72 tackles, and caught 45 passes for 678 yards and eight touchdowns in the past two years.

Even so, Jenkins was not thrilled with his senior season numbers.

"My junior season, I had eight interceptions," Jenkins said. "Coming into the season, I didn't think a lot of teams were going to throw at me. It was kind of frustrating at the beginning, but then it made me feel better that when they threw away from me, they had the ball intercepted anyway by the rest of the defensive backs. That made me feel better. They were just helping my teammates out."

Jenkins has another quality college coaches look for in their players. He is a winner, and losing is not something he can tolerate. This fall, his team won its third consecutive state championship. You read that right – a three-peat.

Jenkins stated, "I'm 33-3 as a starter. In our state, as a Group IV school, everyone shoots for us. They have parochial schools, and some of those teams are overrated and get ranked higher than we do, but everyone guns for us. In 2002, we went 12-0. In 2003, we went 9-3 and barely made it to the playoffs but beat out the first seed, the second seed and the fourth seed to win the title. This year, we went 12-0 again."

All this is more than a little impressive, but the icing on the cake is Jenkins understands and has experienced what many freshmen arriving in Columbus this fall have not. He has already spent the last three years playing for a team with the proverbial target on its back.

What has that taught him?

"Honestly, my mentality is that there is no target," Jenkins said. "To outside people, they might say there is a target on my back, but my mentality is whoever I am playing has the target on their back. I'm going to go after them. My coach tells us, ‘You are either going to be the hunter or the hunted.' My mentality is that no matter how many rings we have, no matter how many championships – we are always the hunter."

Maybe the hunter will bag a Wolverine, Wildcat, or Nittany Lion this fall?

Going Camping
Buckeye coaches and fans are familiar with Jenkins now, but before July 2004 he was a virtual unknown. OSU assistant Darrell Hazell, his lead recruiter, was sending him letters and Ohio State brochures. Jenkins liked what he saw, but he knew he had to do something to get the coaches' attention.

His mother, Gwendolyn Jenkins, wanted to visit her younger sister who lives in Westerville, and so the family planned the trip around the dates of the Ohio State recruiting camp.

"I was excited about it," she said. "It gave me the opportunity to visit my sister for the first time out there. It gave him the opportunity to be exposed."

Jenkins arrived at the camp knowing that this was his chance to earn a scholarship, and he wasn't about to let it slip away.

"I got to the camp and nobody really knew who I was except the coach who was recruiting me," Jenkins said. "When I really impressed the coaches is when we did one-on-one drills. They had me going against the best wide receivers there. I kept cutting in the line of like 20 defensive backs to go over and over to get as many reps as possible.

"(Defensive backs coach Mel) Tucker really liked what he saw and was trying to help me with a lot of things – little things I was doing wrong. I guess in the one on ones, I shut the receivers down most of the time, and they really liked that. From the time I first started doing good to when I left, he helped me with a lot of stuff. I really felt like I left the camp better than I was when I got there. I learned a lot and developed a relationship."

Within days, Jenkins had an early Christmas present – an offer to play football for The Ohio State University. It didn't take him long to decide he wanted to spend his college years in Columbus.

"I had a lot of fun when I was at the camp," Jenkins said. "I loved Coach Tucker. They made me feel like they wanted me instead of making me feel like Ohio State wanted a corner."

When it came down to it last August, Jenkins narrowed his choices to OSU, Virginia Tech and Rutgers, located in his hometown of Piscataway. After calling all of the schools that had offered him a scholarship, he phoned Hazell to give him the good news.

"I wanted to get it over before the season," Jenkins said. "I didn't want to go to the season having to worry about all these colleges, and I was pretty set. I just told Coach Hazell, and he told the rest of the coaching staff. He called me back a couple of days later. He told me what they said and everything. He was happy. He was real happy because I'm his first recruit as a Buckeye coach."

Like any mother, Gwendolyn Jenkins couldn't be more proud.

"It's an experience you dream of," she said. "We are very excited and proud of the work he has done to put himself in the position to be honored and go to Ohio State. We understand they have a one-of-a-kind program. We're just honored that Malcolm is even being considered for a full ride scholarship there."

She is glad her sister is there in Columbus in case her son needs anything, but she is also extremely comfortable with the coaching staff.

"We've had the opportunity to meet Coach Tressel," she said in talking about her son's recruitment. "We took the official visit. Coach Tressel also came out to the school here and we met him. He is a good person. It just confirmed and reaffirmed his decision and made us more comfortable in sending our son so far away from home. Coach Tucker as well and Coach Hazell as well, we had an opportunity to meet them and their families.

"We were very much impressed with the overall program and not just the athletic program. We had an opportunity to speak with individuals in the academic program. We were very impressed with the total package with Ohio State. I'm excited, to say the least."

That is more than a little important when your son is leaving home to play football seven-and-a-half hours away.

A Mind to Play
Just earning the scholarship is not enough for Jenkins. He has his mind set on becoming the best player he can be and more. He wants to play, and he is well aware that starting corner Dustin Fox is on his way to the NFL.

"I'm definitely going to try to get after that spot," he said. "I'm in the weight room right now. In the spring, I'll be doing track to work on my speed and stamina. In the summer, I'll work on both. I will come up there for a week and go to orientation. Then I will come back here and train with one of my coaches and his son. His son is over at Boston College so I'll train with him. Then I'll come up a week before camp."

He hopes to start by the Texas game, and while that is a lofty aim for a freshman who is not even graduating and enrolling early, Jenkins takes to his position like a duck to water.

"To play corner, you have to be a unique athlete," Jenkins said. "You have to be one of the most athletic people on the field - one of the fastest, smartest, etc. It is harder to cover somebody who knows what they are doing when you don't know what they are doing. It's more of a challenge, and I love challenges."

He also enjoys contact, saying, "When I come to make the tackle, I'm going to make the tackle. If someone is standing around, somebody is going to get hit. Somebody is going to get hit."

Most important perhaps is his attitude toward the football. Last fall, after Ashton Youboty tore up Michigan and helped the Buckeyes to a 37-21 thrashing of the Wolverines, he made it clear he wanted the football if it was in the air. He pointed out to reporters nearby that the pigskin does not have the receiver's name on it but is just as much his to catch as theirs.

Discussing his role as a cover corner, Jenkins blurted out that when the quarterback releases the football downfield, "If the ball is in the air, it is mine."

Always a proponent of his players setting goals, Tressel might be pleased to know even aside from playing time Jenkins already has a few of his own for 2005.

"My number one goal is to get better than I am now," Jenkins said. "The second is to start. The third goal would be to do more than just secure a position, but to excel and be one of the top defenders on the team or even in the Big Ten."

Those goals are mighty high for a freshman cornerback. But if he meets them while playing opposite Youboty, Buckeye fans may just be doing back flips all the way to Pasadena.

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