Ask Jacobi Jenkins what
makes him a good football player and you’ll get a quick response.
“Speed,’’ Jenkins said
Friday morning, “is the name of the game.’’
It certainly is for
Jenkins, a 6-foot-1, 170-pound multi-purpose athlete from Rocky Mount
High School who recently became the latest addition to East Carolina’s
recruiting Class of 2008.
Rocky Mount’s veteran head
coach B.W. Holt says Jenkins has “legit 4.3 speed’’ in the 40-yard dash.
Further proof of Jenkins’ speed and athleticism can be found in the
results from last May’s state 3-A track and field championships in
Jenkins place third in the
110-meter hurdle competition with a time of 14.40 and fifth in the 300
hurdles in 39.92. He’s one of the favorites to claim both events as a
senior and hopes to continue competing in track at the college level. “I
love track,’’ he said. “I plan on it (running in college).’’
East Carolina began
recruiting Jenkins during a sophomore season in which he intercepted
nine passes on defense to earn first-team all-state honors. Pirate
defensive tackles coach Thomas Roggeman was the main recruiter and he
sold Jenkins on the purple and gold.
“I’ve been getting over
there about once or twice a month to Greenville,’’ Jenkins said. “I
really love the atmosphere. They have a nice crowd of people and they
really made me feel at home.’’
The Pirates were the first
school to offer Jenkins a scholarship, but he also received serious
interest from North Carolina, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest.
Jenkins is following in
the footsteps of his older brother Marcus, who starred in football,
wrestling and track for the Gryphons. Marcus went on to play
collegiately, first at Norfolk State. Marcus is now a strong safety at
“He’s my No. 1 role
model,’’ Jenkins said. “He pushed me harder than anybody else to be the
best I can be.’’
Jacobi grew up playing
backyard football with his brothers and cousins in Rocky Mount. He
graduated to recreation flag football and then to the junior high squad
where he was initially used as an offensive lineman.
“It was kind of crazy to
tell you the truth,’’ Jenkins said. “There were people on the line 100
pounds bigger than me. I have no idea why they put me there. But I was a
A year later Jenkins was
moved to running back and that’s when Holt and the varsity coaches at
Rocky Mount first became aware of him.
“We knew about him as an
eighth grader,’’ Holt said. “He’s always had the good speed. We knew he
came from a good background because his brother had played here and in
college. As a young person, he came in working hard.’’
Jenkins played one year of
junior varsity before making the varsity squad as a sophomore. Playing
cornerback, he proved a significant contributor as Rocky Mount advanced
to the state 4-AA championship game where the Gryphons fell to Charlotte
Holt expanded Jenkins’
role last season, using him at cornerback on defense, wide receiver and
wingback on offense and as a kick returner. He responded with another
all-state performance, making 46 tackles and five interceptions on
defense and 10 receptions for 176 yards on offense at receiver.
East Carolina has
recruited Jenkins to play wide receiver. Three of the top seven
receivers on ECU’s depth chart are seniors (Juwon Crowell, Steve Rogers
and Phillip Henry) and a fourth is a junior (T.J. Lee).
“I don’t play a lot of
receiver (in high school), but I play enough,’’ Jenkins said. “I’m the
best on deep balls and anywhere in the (end zone) corner.’’
Jenkins has helped the
Gryphons to a 6-0 start to the 2007 season, highlighted by a 17-7
victory against defending 4-A champion Greenville Rose. He contributed a
42-yard return on the opening kickoff to set up Rocky Mount’s first
touchdown. Jenkins also had two catches for 40 yards on offense.
This past Friday night,
Jenkins gathered in a touchdown pass in the Gryphons' 49-7 rout of
The commitment from
Jenkins is the fourth from an Eastern North Carolina prospect for the
Pirates. ECU now has six players committed, all from in-state high
thumbnail sketches of other players verbally committed to join ECU's
recruiting class of 2008.]