Jenkins Reflects On First Career Start

OSU freshman cornerback Malcolm Jenkins made his first career start in the team's win over San Diego State last Saturday. Jenkins talks about his expanding role as well as the weird start to last weekend's game.

A surprise starter for Ohio State in last Saturday's win over San Diego State was freshman Malcolm Jenkins.

Jenkins started at cornerback as regular starter Tyler Everett slid over to the nickel back.

OSU coach Jim Tressel said Jenkins, a product of Piscataway (N.J.) Township, wasted no time in impressing the coaches during preseason practice.

"He was from an excellent program," Tressel said. "They were three-time state champions in New Jersey. He has studied the game. He was a guy who was in to the game of football. You could tell as he got here that he was maybe further advanced than the normal guy. What we've been able to do is play him at corner and move Tyler inside to nickel. That allowed us to spell Tyler a little bit as well. Malcolm has also been on a bunch of special teams.

"He's got to take the next step as we go into the Big Ten. But I think he's done a nice job."

Jenkins talked about the transition from high school ball to the college game.

"The coaches told me there was a cornerback spot open and I needed to come in prepared to play because I would have a chance to play," he said. "That was my mind-set. I came in and worked hard and it has obviously paid off."

Jenkins had played some at cornerback in the first two games, even making a touchdown-saving tackle on Texas' Billy Pittman on a long pass play. He was told prior to the San Diego State game that he would play an increased role against the Aztecs.

"They told me I'd be starting in the nickel situations and they said they would play a lot of nickel situations in this game," Jenkins said. "It was exciting because it meant a lot of exposure for me and a chance for me to get on to the field. I also had to keep myself composed because I had a job to do."

Freshman Jamario O'Neal was listed as the nickel back for the first two games, but it was junior Brandon Mitchell who primarily manned that spot until the SDSU game. Jenkins is firmly positioned to become a regular for the remainder of this year and a full-time starter as soon as next year with Everett leaving at season's end.

Jenkins ended the game with three tackles (two solos) and one pass broken up.

"I think I did OK," he said. "One of the better plays I made was on the San Diego State sideline. I had a good solo tackle over there.

"As a defense, I think we did pretty good other than that first play. But we bounced back and did some good things."

Jenkins did note it was weird to be on the field to start the game, only to see SDSU quarterback Kevin O'Connell complete a short screen pass to Brett Swain and Swain take it 80 yards down the sideline for a touchdown.

"We, as a defense, knew that we just had to make an adjustment," he said. "We didn't think twice about it. We just reloaded. I was on the back side of the play, so I didn't see what happened."

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