New Jersey defensive lineman Jayson Jenkins has seen his recruitment explode since late October. He took two official visits with trips to Boston College and Pitt in the books, and now, he will work on navigating the remainder of the process as he holds 13 offers with more potentially on the horizon.
"It is just a very acclimating experience to see how far I have come as a football player and a person and just continuing to grow in life," Jenkins said of the recent recruiting explosion. "It feels very rewarding to see my talents get in the eyes of a great group of people."
So, what was it that Jenkins thinks he showed coaches during his senior season that caught their attention?
"I feel like on tape, I really exerted myself and all of my explosiveness with how fast I can get off the ball," he said. "I showed how I could continue to use my hands and make it known that I could rush the passer and make an impact. I also showed off a lot of versatility."
Today that senior tape helped Jenkins land an offer from the Vols as Tennessee became the latest school to offer him.
"You know, it was just a very, very great conversation that me and Coach (Levorn) Harbin had," Jenkins said of the offer from the Vols. "And you know, they said that I'm their type of guy and that I really fit what they got to have going on over there on the defensive side. They think I could really make an impact, so just that from such an established program like Tennessee's is a very great thing to hear. And I'm very, very proud and very appreciative of being given an opportunity to compete at the highest level at the University of Tennessee."
Tennessee was to the point about what they saw in the Jenkins game that stood out.
"He feels I can really come in and make an impact," Jenkins said of the message from the Vols. "They like that I am fast and physical off the ball and that I like to use my hands and my size, and he said that I am an SEC lineman," Jenkins said. They feel I could make a great impact and have a lot of potential."
The allure of potentially playing for Rodney Garner also stood out, and his track record with developing lineman caught Jenkin's attention.
"I spoke with Coach Garner prior to this, and he has a track record like no other—over 50 players that he's sent to the NFL," Jenkins said. "He's always been one of those names in college football in terms of a D line coaches, of him being that guy. I'm just very, very proud to say that he could possibly be my coach and that I can be given wisdom and knowledge from him. He is just an overall great guy. Coach Garner and all the rest of the staff have been very inclusive in their recruitment of me so far. I'm very happy about that, for sure."
The Vols are late to the process, but Jenkins already knew a bit about what they had to offer.
"Tennessee is a very great school, both academically and athletically," he said. "They're just one of those names of college football. They are great competitors year in and year out. They are always shaking up the scene in terms of college football and stuff like that. So that's, that's pretty much what I know about the university, I just know that t there's a lot of history there and a lot of greats that have come out of that school. That's pretty much all I know about the University of Tennessee."
So with a condensed window to take visits and make a decision, what is next on the schedule for Jenkins.
"I'm visiting West Virginia on January 14th, Florida on January 21st, then Tennessee on January 28th," he said.
"So those are some of the primary schools, and there are a couple of schools other schools," he added of who is standing out in his recruitment. "Tennessee, of course, Missouri, Virginia, Florida, West Virginia, and a couple of other schools that have been reaching out as of late. I just have to continue to just evaluate all options and just really try to come to a good decision for me and my family."
Jenkins is high on each school and offered up insight on several.
On Florida: You know, they're kind of rebuilding the program that they have over there, and they're just putting all the great pieces in place to really become a great program again. Florida's got great history, and, you know, they're really just trying to become an SEC competitor with Coach Napier. I've been in contact with Coach Stapleton and Coach Napier, and the other coaches, and I feel like they really have something special brewing down in Gainesville.
On West Virginia: I like that it's kind of like an ordeal family program. They are a tight-knit bunch group, and I can really sense just from the conversations that I've had with Coach Brown and Coach Jackson that they really care about their players, and they really care about the program at West Virginia in general. Since the signing day, they're one of the first ones to reach out first, so I really feel comfortable with the staff over there. I'm just going to go to Morgantown, West Virginia, and just really take it all in to see what it is and just evaluate what it is all about.
On Boston College: You know, Boston College is just a very good program and school in general. Education is second to none, and also just the football aspect, playing the ACC and everything like that. They have a lot of great things to offer in Boston. When I was up there, it was a very good time. I just like keeping all the options open and just continuing to see where I truly best fit.
On Missouri: Just the conversations I've had with Coach Davis and they really believe in my talents and my ability over there. They're dumping a lot of resources into the program, They're building a new facility, and they're recruiting some of the best players in the country, and it's really having a very good core there to build up off of and just continue to grow as a program. Mizzou is definitely up there on the list.
So how does Jenkins plan to separate one school from the rest?
"I am really just gonna just take a step back and absorb everything and ask myself if it's a place where I really want to be," he said of his plan. "If I truly feel that in my heart, I'll go ahead and make that decision from there just based on seeing that it's truly my fit and if I feel like I can do great things there and really help out and work as hard as can there. hard So that's pretty much what that is. It's just trying to see where my true place is."
He is unsure of when a decision will come, as he plans to continue to take his recruitment one day at a time.