Jenkins denies continued drug use reports

North Alabama cornerback Janoris Jenkins was dismissed from the University of Florida football program after three arrests: two possession of marijuana charges and another stemming from a bar fight.

However, Jenkins was emphatic in denying a report that he allegedly kept using marijuana after enrolling at North Alabama where he was subject to a zero-tolerance policy.

"I wasn't smoking marijuana at North Alabama," Jenkins said in a telephone interview. "If anybody wants to know, they can give my coaches a call. I wasn't partying. They've been saying a lot of things about me that aren't true without getting my side of the story. It's been a humbling experience.

"You've got to be a man, you've got to be honest and straightforward. I've matured. My past is my past. People can judge me for how far I've come. I want to know why all of a sudden this is out there about me. Why didn't it come out after the combine when I was straightforward with the scouts? The timing is very interesting to me."

Tony Pecoraro, Jenkins' defensive coordinator last season at North Alabama, backed up his player's story, saying the 23-year-old didn't violate a zero tolerance contract. The contract included random drug testing and a community service requirement.

"Of course, he got drug tested when he was there and he passed those tests," Pecoraro told Scout. "For him to get into school, our athletic director put in a bunch of stipulations and he had to do community service hours, do a mentoring program, take random drug tests. If anything had come back positive from those, he wouldn't have been out there. It was a zero tolerance policy. He did everything we asked him to do."

Last year, Jenkins was a second-team All-American selection who finished second nationally with a 21.7 punt return average as he returned three punts for touchdowns.

He also had 53 tackles, two interceptions, four pass deflections and two fumble recoveries.

"Coaching him was fun and easy," Pecoraro said. "He makes you a hell of a lot better coach. He was a great kid for us. He came in from Florida, and it could have went a bunch of different ways.

"He could have come in with an ego, but he did not. He bought into us. I can't say enough good things about him. The players loved him. He did a hell of a job for us."

Jenkins has four children with three women.

He insists that won't be a distraction and that they provide motivation for him to make it in the NFL to give them the best possible financial situation.

"When I was at Florida, I had these same kids and I was playing at a high level and nobody said anything bad about it," Jenkins said. "I'm proud of my kids. I love them. I will raise them as their dad.

"I don't know why I happen to be a guy who people want to tear down. I don't listen to what they have to say. When I was a kid, my dad always told me you will face adversity and you will make some mistakes. You can either stay at the bottom of the hill or you can climb back to the top."

Jenkins has visited the Philadelphia Eagles, Indianapolis Colts and the St. Louis Rams.

Jenkins said he had positive meeting with Eagles coach Andy Reid and other NFL coaches.

"Coach Reid is a great guy, very cool, very straightforward," Jenkins said. "He kept it honest. He told me what he liked about me and some of the things he didn't like. He told me I was a great cornerback and doesn't think I'm a bad guy. He just said I made some mistakes.

"I get great feedback from NFL teams. Certain teams told me they thought I would be a thuggish kid with baggy jeans or one of those wild guys. When they meet me, they see I'm not a bad kid. I just made some mistakes and everybody makes mistakes. The NFL is going to get a good person who will give back and reach out to kids and talk about the things I've done in my past and talk to them about not making the same mistakes I made."

It's unclear where Jenkins is going to land in the draft next week.

There's little doubt that his stock has been damaged by his off-field problems.

Nonetheless, Jenkins has excellent coverage skills and that's a rare trait coveted in today's pass-first NFL.

Among the rumored landing spots for Jenkins if he goes in the first round: the New England Patriots and the Cincinnati Bengals.

He's not expected to have a long wait should he slip into the second round.

"They'll get a steal," Pecoraro said. "I know he had some issues as a young man, but sometimes you make mistakes. He got a second chance and he took full advantage of it. Any team that gets him, you can't get a better football player: physical, smart, fast, can cover in zone or man. He did it against top receivers. He's already guarded them and shut them down."

Jenkins excelled at the Senior Bowl all-star game.

Before leaving Florida, Jenkins fared well against future Cincinnati Bengals Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Green and Atlanta Falcons starter Julio Jones. He held them to an average of 38 yards per game.

At the NFL scouting combine, he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.46 seconds and had a 10-1 broad jump.

For the Gators, he had 121 tackles, eight interceptions and 25 pass deflections in 36 career starts.

Jenkins' talent is unquestioned. However, teams want to find a comfort level with him as a person, though.

"Whoever gets me will get a competitor, somebody who works hard, a team player and a shutdown cornerback," Jenkins said. "Whoever skips over me, they're going to regret it now and later."

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