X has a special meaning for Jenkins

In football lingo, the X-receiver is typically the field stretcher, the guy that runs the streak patterns and makes defensive backs defend the goal line on every play. A.J. Jenkins has the kind of speed and moves to be the X-receiver at the college level, but whether or not he plays that position, X will still be special to him.

It seems that Jenkins is somewhat of a cultural history buff.  History is his favorite class in school and X has a place in hisotry.

“I like history, black history,” said Jenkins, the standout from Jacksonville’s Terry Parker High School. “Malcolm X is my favorite black man in history.  He started a movement and I think I kind of resemble his leadership.  I feel like I try to start things with my team and they try to keep up.

“’By any means necessary’, I use that quote (of Malcolm X) with our team and tell them we need to win by any means necessary.”

The speaking out has been a little bit difficult for Jenkins who is somewhat laid back, but now he is a senior and he is starting to understand he needs to help the young guys.

“I wasn’t vocal before but I am now,” he said.  “My coach had to talk to me because he said I was too laid back and too quiet. I used to just lead by example, but now he wants me to be vocal.”

Spring didn’t go exactly as planned for Jenkins who started the spring with a handful of college scholarship offers. He was all prepared to show off for all the college coaches coming to watch him when an injury sidelined him for almost the entire spring.

“I was hurt most of the spring,” he said. “I didn’t practice with the team until the day before the jamboree.  The second game I scored a 35 yard touchdown. 

Often times Jenkins is the lone receiver in Parker’s wing-T offense.  He understands his responsibilities and has added a few more this year so he can help the team win. 

“We run the wing-T so our running game is strong,” Jenkins said. “I am playing a little bit of defense too.  I play cornerback.  I don’t mind helping the team like I am.”

The scholarship offers have poured in even though Terry Parker is a running team. The lack of spring practice didn’t hurt him at all. He has so many offers that he’s felt the need to whittle away and come up with a top five list.

“Last time I looked I had 25 offers, Clemson, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Louisville all came in lately,” he said. “I have my top five in Miami, Florida, Georgia Tech, LSU, and South Carolina,”

he talked about each of his top five programs..

MIAMI: “They didn’t have a lot of play makers at receiver.  I think I can come in right away and play if I go in there and show them my stuff.  They were also my favorite school growing up.”

GEORGIA TECH: “I talked to Coach Geis and he was very up front to me.  He told me they will run the three wide offense.  I am not really a big fan of the five wide receiver offense.”

LSU: I talked to (Head coach) Les Miles the other day and he said I can come in and compete for the spot.  I looked at the depth chart and they don’t have a lot of speedy receivers since three went to the draft last year.  I think I can come in and be the home run hitter that they need.”

SOUTH CAROLINA: “I talk to Steve Spurrier Jr. also.  They love my quick feet and my hands.  I am not a big fan of the offense, but it is Steve Spurrier.”

FLORIDA: “I have a great relationship with the coaches like Coach G (wide receiver coach Billy Gonzales).  He always talks to me about stuff other than football.  They want to know about my girlfriend and stuff.”

Sometimes in this world of recruiting there are some innuendos made that just aren’t true.  It is taking Malcolm X’s motto “by any means necessary” in a different direction. One of those innuendos being made against the defending national champions is that the receivers on the roster have to share the ball too much, that a big time receiver would be foolish to go to Florida because he wouldn’t get the ball. Florida typically has three or four wide receivers on every play and the Gators do their best to spread the ball around and make defenses try to cover the whole field.

The fact the Gators spread it around so much has made Jenkins to make some comparisons.

“I am used to being the man and not really used to having so many receivers on the field,” said Jenkins who is often times the only receiver on the field for his Parker wing-T offense.  “I am not selfish, but I just feel like I need to touch the ball.  I looked on the Internet and saw Florida averaged 30 balls for the top receivers and LSU averaged like 60 balls for their top three receivers. I am just trying to compare the pros and cons.”

Make no mistake about it, LSU was a talented team in 2006, even though they lost to Florida and didn’t make it to the SEC Championship game.  They had the first pick of the overall draft in Jamarcus Russell throwing the ball to a receiver corps that was almost as talented and saw two of them go in the first round in Dwayne Bowe and Craig Davis. 

Last season LSU’s top three receivers averaged 60 catches, but of course, the year before, the top three averaged only 36 catches each. Mind you it was the same three first rounders throwing and catching the ball. This means for the 2005 and 2006 seasons the top three receivers averaged 48.0 catches each.

Of course, LSU doesn’t even have the offensive coordinator they had last season. This year the coordinator will be Gary Crowton, formerly of Oregon.  They definitely had a high powered offense at Oregon, but in two seasons under his helm the Ducks top three receivers also averaged 48.0 catches each.

Now, back to the 30 average catches by the top three receivers at Florida.  Actually, adding them up, in 2006, the top three receivers at Florida (Dallas Baker, Andre Caldwell, and Jemalle Cornelius) averaged 50.3 catches each.  In 2005 the top three receivers (Chad Jackson, Dallas Baker, and Jemalle Cornelius) averaged 56.3 catches.  In two seasons the Gators averaged 53.3 catches each for their top three receivers.

In essence, in the last two years, the top three Gator receivers are catching the ball on average five more times each during the season than the two squads mentioned above.  Yet, some of the top prospects are being told otherwise.  It is amazing how it all gets twisted sometimes isn’t it.

Oh there will be more misinformation out there, especially for a kid like A.J. Jenkins who every school wants to land.  That is what this recruiting process is about for a kid like Jenkins, he has the tools and the head to sift through the nonsense and make a decision that is best for his future.