Player Spotlight: Corey Jenkins

Lake Forest - Newly signed Bear Corey Jenkins sat at the base of his locker Monday nearly dwarfed by a massive brown box that had just arrived at Halas Hall from Miami. As Jenkins browsed through its contents, he reflected on the uncertainties of life as a professional football player.

"Last week I went to practice as usual," Jenkins said. "As a second year player for the Dolphins, I thought that things were just settling down for me professionally. I'd even begun construction on a new house. Tuesday night the team rep called me and said that I'd been put on waivers. I called my agent and he said that offers had come in from several teams. By Thursday afternoon, I was relocating to the Chicago suburbs."

Jenkins was surprised to find several familiar faces among his new teammates.

"I came here sort of expecting to be all alone, not to know anybody in the locker room. Then Fred Russell was also signed from Miami. And of course, Wale came to the Bears about a month ago. Add them to the players already here from the University of Florida and the University of Miami, and it appears as if the southern guys are taking over the clubhouse. To me, that's a real good thing."

Jenkins was a sixth round pick by the Dolphins in the 2003 draft, selected 181st overall. He played quarterback in high school and at the University of South Carolina, where he also occasionally lined up as safety. Jenkins spent his time for the Dolphins as weak side linebacker behind Junior Seau.

Jenkins prides himself on being a multitalented athlete, having played basketball, track, baseball and football in high school before concentrating on the latter two after graduation.

"It was hard to know which way to go athletically as I enjoyed most sports," he said. "I was drafted right after senior year in high school by the Boston Red Sox. I was pretty sure that's what I wanted to do. Football became bigger in my life when I went to college."

Somewhat familiar with Chicago due to a stint with the White Sox farm team after being waived by the Red Sox, Jenkins says he is looking forward to seeing the city and perhaps catching up with a few of his former Sox teammates. He even claimed to be eagerly awaiting the first snowfall.

"I'm from Colombia, South Carolina," Jenkins said. "I played farm ball in Birmingham then went to the University of South Carolina. I've been in warm places all of my life. I know nothing about the seasons. In Miami it was summer all of the time. That's fine, but it can get a little dull. Honestly, I'm really looking forward to seeing a little snow."

Admitting that his wardrobe might be a little sparse in coats and sweaters, Jenkins clearly had a plan in mind.

"Shopping," he said. "I love to do that anyway. This is a great excuse. The guys here have been giving me some tips, telling me where they get their stuff. I can't wait to hit the stores on Michigan Avenue. And I hear there's a big mall just down the way from Halas Hall. Surely they'll have enough to keep me warm this winter."

Jenkins had little time to acclimate to Chicago before heading with the team to Green Bay.

"It was more or less a blur to me," he said. "I got on the plane to come up here, met the other guys, then got ready for an away game. While I was somewhat behind on the playbook, I got through the game and am working on learning everything right now."

As Jenkins becomes acclimated with the defense, look for him to join the mix at strong-side linebacker and possibly challenge Marcus Reese and Joe Odom for the starting job.

At this point he's still feeling out the players in the locker room.

"The Bears are an interesting group. No primadonna, just normal nice people," Jenkins said. "Everybody came up to say hello when I first got here. I tend to sit back and scope people out from a distance. I don't rush right in and make friends, but they made me feel comfortable. I really appreciate that."

Now Jenkins is house hunting, hoping to eventually relocate his fiancé to the Chicago area.

"She offered to come up here right away, but I told her that wasn't necessary. I'll need a little time to adjust. I get a week in a motel, then I'm on my own, so I've already started looking for a good place to live."

But now back to the box. After laboriously cutting layers of clear tape, Jenkins opened the top and reached deep inside.

"Must be ten or more Dolphins jerseys in there," Jenkins laughed. "It looks as if they just went in my locker, grabbed everything that I had and packed it up. I'm not sure what I'll do with them. I'm really happy to be wearing Bears blue right now."


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