Jenkins talks flip to Tennessee

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One way or another, Ryan Jenkins was going to have to break some bad news to a relative before National Signing Day.

Jenkins' brother plays at Clemson, a school at which he'd been committed to play for since July 8. However, his dad suited up for the Tennessee Volunteers as a defensive back 1980-82.

In the end, another visit to Rocky Top last weekend and the opportunity to follow in his father Lee Jenkins' footsteps was too much to pass up.

"It feels good," Jenkins told InsideTennessee. "I finally have a weight lifted off my chest. So, it feels good.

"It wasn't something I saw in Clemson that made question. I went up to Tennessee. I loved the coaches, I loved the atmosphere and I loved the campus. Just the overall feel and that's where I want to be."

The Lassiter (Ga.) High School star is Tennessee's 19th commitment in the Class of 2013. He is ranked the No. 79 wide receiver in the country and joins Paul Harris and Josh Smith as pass catchers on the pledge sheet.

The previous coaching staff under then-head man Derek Dooley had Jenkins on campus January 2011 for an unofficial visit and certainly knew of his talents but never came through with a scholarship offer. That changed entirely when Butch Jones and his crew came on board in December.

"I wasn't even necessarily waiting for Tennessee. I went up there, hit it off with the coaches. I just felt like that's where I wanted to be," Jenkins said.

"It was very intriguing (to get the Tennessee offer). I wanted to get up there and see Tennessee under Butch Jones' leadership."

The most recent trip took place last Friday and Saturday. He got a dose of the red-carpet treatment with Jones himself showing the Peach State product The Hill. That time with Jones meant a lot.

"He's a great man," Jenkins said of the first-year head coach. "He has great faith as well. I believe he can get it done at Tennessee."

The Volunteers plan to use the 5-foot-10, 190-pounder as a slot receiver. In coordinator Mike Bajakian's Spread attack, pass catchers like Jenkins should get the opportunity to work in space and cause mismatches.

"As a receiver, I'm quick, I'm fast, I can get in and out of my breaks real quick. I feel like I'm one of the best route runners in the country, and I'm versatile enough to play in the slot as well as play on the outside. You can isolate me and leave me with men I can take advantage of," the FOX Sports NEXT three-star said.

"(The offense) definitely suits me. I can go and do my thing in the slot, create mismatches on linebackers and safeties."

From Stanley Morgan to Anthony Miller to Carl Pickens to Donté Stallworth, the list is relentless with the number of playmakers that the Vols have produced, earning the title of Wide Receiver U. Following that group and helping strengthen the legacy isn't something that slides past the Marietta, Ga., native.

"It means a lot because a lot of great receivers have gone through Tennessee in the past," Jenkins said. "I'm going to follow that same tradition."

With the graduation of Zach Rogers, the early declarations to the NFL Draft by Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson and the position switch of Jason Croom to tight end, there is a clear opportunity to play immediately for any set of consistent hands in the Class of 2013.

"Definitely they have (talked about early playing time)," Jenkins said. "I know that nothing is given to you, especially in the SEC. So, I'm going to go in there and grind, work hard and make plays in practice and see if I can find my way onto the field."

Like any prospect, Jenkins wants to be a good player made great. If that is to happen, Tennessee assistant coach Zach Azzanni must help. The two have already started building a chemistry.

"I have met the wide receivers coach. I had a long meeting with him, and I think he's one of the best in the country," Jenkins said of Azzanni.

At the Nike SPARQ Combine last summer, the future Vol was laser timed in the 40-yard dash at 4.59 seconds with a vertical jump of 38.0 inches. His shuttle time of 3.94 seconds was among the best in the country.

Lassiter won Region 5 with a perfect 10-0 record but lost a heartbreaker in the opening round of the GHSA Class AAAAAA state playoffs 24-21 to Brookwood.

The Vol legacy plans to enroll this summer, possibly in late May.

Danny Parker is currently the Managing Editor, Recruiting Analyst and Staff Photographer for He was previously the sports editor at Shelbyville Times-Gazette. He joined the InsideTennessee team July 2011.

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