Jenkins Continues To Impress

Ohio State has produced a lot of great cornerbacks over the last decade. Freshman Malcolm Jenkins from New Jersey could be the next one. He impressed the coaching staff right away during preseason camp and worked his way into the two-deep. We caught up with Jenkins following the Miami game.

One of the key stories of Ohio State's preseason camp was the play of true freshman cornerback Malcolm Jenkins.

He quickly worked his way into the two-deep, reportedly showing excellent coverage skills, athletic ability and toughness.

Saturday's 34-14 victory over Miami marked the OSU debut for Jenkins and he was elated to finally wear the scarlet and gray in a real game.

"It feels great," he said. "I'm grateful for the opportunity to play right away because I know a lot of freshmen don't get that chance to get out there so early. But it was fun and I was happy to get out there and show everybody what I could do."

The 6-1, 185-pound Jenkins was one of the top defensive back prospects in the nation out of Piscataway (N.J) High School. He also played wide receiver and led his team to back-to-back state championships as a junior and senior.

Being a top recruit, Jenkins had the mindset of playing right away at Ohio State. Redshirting was never in the plans.

"Yeah, I knew there was kind of an open spot at the corner position and I came into camp with the mentality that I was going to start," Jenkins said. "I kind of got close – I'm running with the twos right now. So, right now, I'm where I want to be."

Some of Jenkins' teammates have said that he could be the next great corner at OSU.

"I'm trying to be," Jenkins said. "I'm trying to get there. We'll see, I guess."

Several outstanding cornerbacks have come out of Ohio State in recent years. But being the next Shawn Springs, Antonie Winfield, Ahmed Plummer, Nate Clements, Chris Gamble or Dustin Fox was not the reason Jenkins signed with OSU.

"Yeah, that really didn't have much to do with it," he said. "I came here because I liked the coaching staff, the team tradition and stuff like that. The fan support. It was all something that wasn't too big where I was from, so I wanted to experience that."

Jenkins wears the No. 2 at OSU – a number made famous by three-time All-American safety Mike Doss. But wearing the No. 2 is not a tribute to Doss. It has always been Jenkins' number.

"Yeah, that's what I wore in high school," he said. "At my high school, wearing No. 2 is a big thing. It's like if you wore No. 2 at my high school, you were the playmaker. So, it's kind of a number that I wanted to stick with and I had the opportunity to keep it."

Jenkins is not the only true freshman defensive back in the two-deep. Safety Jamario O'Neal has also been impressive.

"Yeah, he's doing real good himself," Jenkins said. "He's running with the twos and has been real productive in practice. It's just we both still need to learn the system and learn coverages and stuff like that and once we do that we should be straight."

Jenkins arrived in Columbus in mid-July and it gave him a bit of a head start on most other incoming freshmen.

"I came about two weeks before camp," he said. "I got in some lifts and stuff with the team. Some 7-on-7's, just to work on my footwork before I got into camp."

Jenkins was asked what he thinks he did to impress OSU's coaching staff in camp.

"I impressed them as far as one-on-one man coverage," he said without hesitation. "When we do one-on-ones, there's nothing to learn with that. I just go out and cover people. But it took me a couple days – almost a whole week to get the entire defense down. I'm still learning some stuff, so it's kind of a slow process, but I'm getting there."

Other than inexperience, it's hard to find a weakness with Jenkins. He's a big, fast corner that can hit.

"Well, I think I'm quick enough to stay with receivers, I play the ball good and I can come up and play the run as well," he said. "I'm just trying to work hard so I don't have a weakness out there. I want to be good at everything they want me to do."

Jenkins is also playing a lot on special teams. He is one of the snipers on punt coverage and is also a backup kick returner. Jenkins broke off a 34-yard return against Miami, but was hit from behind and lost a fumble on the play.

"Special teams is an important part of the game," Jenkins said. "They want impact players to go in there so I try and play my best."

Defensive coordinator Jim Heacock, along with secondary coaches Tim Beckman and Paul Haynes, all spend time working with Jenkins.

"I mostly work with Coach Beckman, because he coaches the corners," Jenkins said. "Sometimes when we do stuff on the perimeter, Coach Haynes will give me some tips and stuff like that. And Coach Heacock is involved in everything. I think they are all great coaches – I've already picked up a lot from listening to them."

No matter the situation, Jenkins would be excited to be playing as a freshman at a school like Ohio State. But the fact that he is playing on a top 10 team just adds to his enthusiasm.

"Yeah, it does," he said. "Because we've got chances to go places that other teams don't. Like Big Ten championships, national championships, stuff like that. There's not a lot of people that have a chance to accomplish things like that, so it's exciting to be a part of this team."

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