Jenkins: A Fit At Any Position

If Syracuse defensive tackle recruit Tony Jenkins is anything, he's adaptable.

The 6-foot-3, 275-pound high-school standout from West Springfield High in Virginia spent much of his high-school football career bouncing around from linebacker to defensive tackle to defensive end.

In the end, it made little difference where Jenkins lined up.

Jenkins, who was Prepstar's 14th-ranked defensive lineman in the Atlantic region, played each position on the defensive line his junior year and started as a linebacker his senior year. During his junior and senior years, he compiled 140 tackles and nine sacks.

"He adapts very well in an unstructured atmosphere," said his father, Plez. "He has a motor that's continuous that allows him to get to the ball no matter what position he's playing."

Jenkins still wishes he could have done more, even if it meant adapting to a position on offense.

"I wanted to go both ways," Jenkins said, "possibly playing at fullback or on the line. But that's something the coaches here don't do."

"There's no question that Tony would have been at least all-district if I had him on the offensive line," West Springfield coach Bill Renner said. "But we usually only play guys one way because most other schools play guys on offense and defense. So we take that as an advantage."

Renner said Jenkins' quickness off the ball and body control separate him from other players. During one play this past year, Jenkins hit the running back and took the ball from him on the way to the ground.

"I've never seen that in high school football before," Renner said. "I've seen people make a tackle and then strip the ball. But never have I seen that body control at the point of contact to just take the ball away from the guy."

"My explosiveness and quickness off the ball are definitely two of my strengths," Jenkins said. "I have the all-around package. I just have to work on my all-around strength, so I can adjust to everyone else's strength at a Division I level."

To increase his strength, Jenkins is working with personal trainer Kevin Stewart five times a week. Stewart is a trainer at Game Speed, which trains college athletes.

"Tony is very focused on what he wants," his father said. "He's working on his strength and quickness, adjusting to what the Syracuse coaches want and physically getting to where he needs to be."

Jenkins' focus might stem from his father, who is a retired military serviceman and former offensive guard and center from Louisiana-Monroe.

"Since my dad played (Division I)," Jenkins said, "it really became my goal to do the same when I became a freshman in high school."

"I realized as a freshman that Tony could possibly play at the next level," Plez said. "My only concern was that coaches wouldn't put him in a good position, which coach Renner certainly did. But I didn't think Division I until after his junior year."

Along with Syracuse, Kansas State, Louisiana, Connecticut and Utah State all offered Jenkins full scholarships.

Jenkins verbally committed to Syracuse early last summer. By the time other schools' offers came, he had already made his decision.

"At Syracuse, I feel I have a good chance of playing early," Jenkins said. "The coaches and the team chemistry just felt right there as well."

If Jenkins' high-school career is a precursor to college, then he should have no trouble adapting.

"Strength-wise and fitness-wise, he's ready," Renner said. "The biggest challenge he will have will be the mental adjustment to college."

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