Friday dawned with five Ohio State juniors – linebackers James Laurinaitis and Marcus Freeman, cornerback Malcolm Jenkins, defensive end Vernon Gholston and offensive tackle Alex Boone – considering whether or not they would return to school for the 2008 season.
Jenkins ended that speculation Friday afternoon, as Ohio State confirmed the New Jersey native would return for his senior season.
"After a great deal of deliberation, I have decided to remain at Ohio State for 2008 to complete my degree and my football career," he said in a statement.
"I don't feel that I've accomplished everything I can accomplish in college football, and there's still a lot for me to conquer and shoot for: the national championship, another Big Ten championship, the Thorpe Award. And I really look forward to the honors and perks associated with being a senior on this team."
Depending on which of the juniors return, Jenkins would figure to be a captain on next year's team, which will be looking to avenge two straight national title game losses, the last of which came Monday against LSU in New Orleans. Laurinaitis was the only full-time defensive captain in 2007, with the second spot rotating among a group of defensive players that included Jenkins.
Following the national title game, Jenkins did not discuss his future, only shaking his head no when asked if he had thought about his future in Columbus. After three days of deliberation, his announcement was made Friday afternoon.
"I have received a lot of good advice from coaches, friends and family and it has boiled down to one message: Figure out what's important to you and follow your heart," he said in the statement.
In 2008, Ohio State will be aiming for a fourth straight Big Ten title, and Jenkins has been a part of all three previous title-winning squads along with a standout group of players in the '05 recruiting class that included Laurinaitis, Boone and starters Lawrence Wilson, Brian Robiskie, Donald Washington, Anderson Russell, Doug Worthington, Brian Hartline, Todd Denlinger and Jim Cordle.
"My whole class is still here," he said. "We came in together and always planned on leaving at the same time. I'm just having fun right now and there are some things you can't put a price on. I'm not sure I want to turn football into a career just yet."
In '07, Jenkins was a first-team All-Big Ten honoree by both the media and the coaches and grabbed second-team All-America honors according to the Walter Camp Foundation. He finished the season with 47 tackles and made four interceptions for the Buckeyes, including one in the title game.
He'll try to boost those numbers against a 2008 schedule includes heavyweight USC in the nonconference slate.
"We have a great schedule next year, which should be a whole lot of fun," Jenkins said in the statement. "I'm on track to graduate next spring in communications, which will make my mom very happy."
As a sophomore starter in 2006, Jenkins made 55 tackles and intercepted four passes for an Ohio State team that made the national title game before losing to Florida. As a true freshman in 2005, he became the team's third cornerback behind Tyler Everett and Ashton Youboty early in the season and finished with 37 tackles, although he did not intercept a pass.