All-Time Greatest – No. 50: Michael Jenkins counts down the days until Ohio State's 2008 season opener with its list of the 50 greatest Buckeyes of all-time. The series kicks off today with No. 50: receiver Michael Jenkins.

When he first set foot on the campus of Ohio State in 1999, no one really knew what to expect from a gangly receiver from Florida by the name of Michael Jenkins. By the time he left, it is likely that no one will ever forget him.

An integral part of the Buckeyes' national championship team of 2002, Jenkins went from unheralded backup to lead the team in receiving for three consecutive years. That was the first time any player had done that since Doug Donley from 1978-80.

Born June 18, 1982, in Tampa, Fla., Jenkins rotated at four different positions for Leto High School in his hometown – running back, receiver, linebacker and defensive back. He also played basketball and ran track in high school, and was ranked the top prep track athlete in the Tampa area during his senior year.

But most college football coaches couldn't decide what position Jenkins would play in college. Even when he decided to sign with Ohio State, the Buckeyes couldn't settle on what they wanted to do with him. OSU nearly wasted a year of his eligibility in 1999 when he appeared in three games for a total of five minutes, but an injury allowed the Buckeyes to get a medical redshirt for him.

The following season was also somewhat of a waste as he saw action in all 12 games, but only for a total of 22 minutes. When the 2001 season rolled around, Jenkins was locked in behind Drew Carter at the split end spot. But when Carter was injured, Jenkins stepped in and never looked back.

He led the Buckeyes in receiving as a sophomore with 49 catches for 988 yards and three TDs, then took over as one of the top clutch receivers in college football as Ohio State marched to the 2002 national title. During a season in which he grabbed 61 receptions for 1,076 yards and six TDs, Jenkins was involved in some of the biggest plays for the Buckeyes during their championship run.

None were any more important than his 37-yard touchdown reception on fourth down with 1:37 remaining to give OSU a 10-6 victory over Purdue. A close second, however, would have been a 17-yard catch he made on fourth-and-14 in the first overtime of the Fiesta Bowl, a play that enabled the Buckeyes to tie the game against Miami (Fla.) and later win it in the second OT.

But Jenkins made clutch catch after clutch catch throughout that 2002 season. While most remember the receptions against Purdue and Miami, equally important receptions came against Wisconsin and Illinois. He had a 45-yard catch between two defenders against Wisconsin that helped set up OSU's winning touchdown in a 19-14 victory. And he fought off a defender to grab a 50-yard touchdown pass at Illinois to give OSU its first lead at 13-10 in what would turn out to be a 23-16 overtime victory.

As a senior in 2003, Jenkins was again the go-to receiver for the Buckeyes as they finished 11-2 and defeated highly-regarded Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl. He again led the team with 55 catches for 834 yards and seven touchdowns.

In his career, Jenkins caught 165 passes for 2,898 yards and 16 TDs. The yardage figure is the most of any Ohio State receiver in history while the reception total ranks him third all-time behind only David Boston (191, 1996-98) and Cris Carter (168, 1984-86). He also caught at least one pass in 38 consecutive games.

Jenkins became one of three Buckeyes chosen in the first round of the 2004 NFL draft, selected by the Atlanta Falcons with the 29th pick overall.

"It's just a special feeling to be picked in the first round," Jenkins told reporters after the draft. "I didn't know what was going to happen (with the Falcons) because they had an early second-round pick. But they thought I had first-round potential and they got me."

Last season was Jenkins' most productive so far with the Falcons with 53 receptions for 532 passes and four touchdowns.

His four-year NFL stats: 61 games, 34 starts, 135 catches, 1,595 yards, 14 TDs.

Tomorrow: No. 49

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