Jenkins Looks to the Future

Ohio State sophomore defensive Malcolm Jenkins has emerged as a leader on a very young Buckeye defense. Jenkins took time out from his busy schedule to participate in a charity autograph session with several of his teammates. We caught up with Jenkins and asked him about his first two seasons in Columbus.

Ohio State defensive back Malcolm Jenkins had a tremendous season in 2006, one that saw him named as a first tram All Big Ten selection. Jenkins, who became a starter mid-way through his freshman year, is a very humble person who is quick to credit others for his success as a Buckeye.

"I was blessed to have won some individual honors this past season," Jenkins began. "But to be honest my play was magnified by the great players around me and by our coaching staff. Everything I've accomplished I owe to them. When our defensive line and linebackers are getting great pressure on the quarterback, it makes it easier for me to play on an island out there. Coach Heacock always has us in a position to be successful. It's a team effort, even though certain individuals might be singled out for special awards. I came here out of high school to be a part of something special. I chose Ohio State over Rutgers and Virginia Tech. This was the best fit for me and I've never regretted it for a minute."

Jenkins finished second on the team with four interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown against Penn State. He declined to name that play, or any one moment, as his greatest thrill as a Buckeye.

"My greatest thrill is just being around this great group of guys every day," he said. "We've had some great moments as a team and that's what I see as the most special moments. It's fun for me being part of a great team. Ever since I've been here I've been a part of something great. It was just as big a moment beating Notre Dame or the victories over Michigan. We're disappointed we weren't able to finish the job against Florida, but that's the nature of competing. Sometimes you aren't able to do the things you know you should be able to do."

Jenkins was asked to describe his feelings on the loss to Florida. Was it a result of poor scheme or poor execution?

"I think it was both really," Jenkins admitted. "We weren't able to play the way we might have liked to because we had a couple of injuries to some of our defensive backs. I'm not going to give names but we were banged up a little in our secondary. We probably would have played less zone coverage but we were forced to cover up some injuries.'

"Our plan was to make them go 70 or 80 yards to score on us. We were hoping we could force turnovers before they would score. But we gave them such great field position that they usually had a short field to go to score on. With our injuries we were forced into a lot of 2-deep coverage, where the job was to keep everything in front of us. When we did bring pressure we weren't successful in getting to the quarterback and that left us exposed in the back of our defense."

Even the disappointing loss to Florida in the national championship game couldn't put a damper on Jenkins' enthusiasm for the 2007 season.

"I think we're going to be real good," Jenkins continued. "We want to get back to the championship game and do it right this time. I think we have the tools to get back to the big game. Personally I want to be more of a leader in making the secondary the strongest part of the team. A lot of young guys played well last year and watch out for a few more next year. Anderson Russell was playing great before his injury. He'll be back. I'd say that Chimdi Chekwa and Grant Schwartz are a couple guys who could make an impact next year as well."

With two great seasons in the books already it might seem like Jenkins might be a candidate to leave Ohio State early with another solid performance. He spoke about that subject briefly.

"I'm not really thinking about the NFL yet at all," he admitted. "I need to get through next season and play at a higher level before I worry about that. Once the season is over it would probably be time to sit down with my family and our coaching staff to see where things are. Right now is not the time to be thinking about that. My focus is on doing what I have to do to make this team a success in 2007."

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