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Tracking the Stars of the Future

Football Recruiting Report
Monday, September 24, 2007

By Sammy Batten

RECRUITING THUMBNAILS:  2006  •  2007  •  2008

Fleet Gryphon running route to ECU

By Sammy Batten
All rights reserved.

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 Greensboro.

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 Shaw University.

“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 starter.’’

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 Independence, 38-19.

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 Southern Wayne.

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 school programs.

[View thumbnail sketches of other players verbally committed to join ECU's recruiting class of 2008.]

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09/24/2007 04:05:01 AM


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