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Sterling Recruit

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It’s an odd thought for Sterling Jenkins. It’s still a year away, but after he finishes his senior year at Baldwin High School, he’ll be playing college football at Penn State.

“The idea that now that I’ll be doing what I’ve been watching the past few years, it’s really something special for me and I think it puts a lot of things in perspective. I’m really thankful for it,” Jenkins said.

Coming from a family that didn’t focus on sports, it’s a surprising idea. But one look at Jenkins will wipe away any confusion. Standing at 6’ 9’’, 308 lbs., Jenkins is a physical specimen. It’s this size, along with surprising athleticism that allowed Jenkins to garner scholarship offers from the likes of Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan, and Georgia, among others.

“The sky is the limit for his potential,” Baldwin football head coach Pete Wagner said. “He’s a very flexible, very athletic kid and you don’t see that much with an individual his size.”

For someone with Jenkins’ physical gifts, it would seem that it was always obvious that Jenkins would play college football. But that wasn’t the case. Up until his freshman year at Baldwin, Jenkins had never played a full season of football, only dabbling in middle school. In fact, until high school, Jenkins was more focused on basketball, a natural fit given his height. 

But after awhile, Jenkins figured he’d give football a try. It wasn’t an immediate fit. During his freshman year, Jenkins was promoted to varsity, only to be sent back down after it was clear he wasn’t ready. That motivated him to up his work ethic, which has greatly aided him in receiving numerous scholarship offers.

“He’s a very cerebral type kid that loves to work. He’s very involved in our offseason program and setting individual goals,” Wagner said. “He’s probably one of the most competitive kids we have in the weight room.”

In the spring of his sophomore year, Jenkins’ hard work started to pay off.  His coaches were able to get him into a Rivals series camp at Montour high school, where he performed admirably. Afterwards, the offers started to pour in.

“There were times when he was reaching out to 40, 50 new people a week and they’re all giving him their spiel on their colleges,” Wagner says.

Jenkins admits that phone calls and texts overwhelmed him at times. Despite that, he relished the opportunity.

“At times it got a little hectic.  But it’s a good problem to have,” Jenkins said.  It’s better that than not having anybody call you during contact periods or not having any schools looking at you.”

As the recruiting process persisted, Jenkins put a heavy focus on relationships. After awhile, Jenkins narrowed his list to two: Penn State and Ohio State.

He chose Penn State due to his relationship with the coaches, the support base they exhibited, and their location being not too close, but not too far from home. Although Ohio State showed these qualities, along with Michigan, who he was once a heavy lean to, Penn State showed them in spades. In the end, although he enjoyed the recruiting process, Jenkins was pleased to see it finish.

“I was kind of happy it came to end because it’s like a next step in my football career,” Jenkins said.

As Jenkins counts down the days until Penn State, he’s working hard on becoming more consistent and improving his technique.

“Overall, he still needs to progress on the football field in regards to his development,” Wagner said. “He understands that and he’s realistic as to where he is now and that keeps him hungry in regards to where he wants to be.”

Although he’s become a bit of celebrity around his town, he’s stayed grounded and focused on getting better.

“When he walks the halls he’s always kissing babies, shaking hands. You can ask any of his teachers and they can’t say enough about him,” Wagner said.

When Jenkins gets to Penn State, he has clear goals in mind. Mainly, he wants to learn from Penn State Left Tackle Donovan Smith, and than vie for his position. Given the improvements he still needs to make, Jenkins recognizes he’s likely to get redshirted.

“Whatever happens I think I’ll be ok with it,” Jenkins.

 No matter the case, Jenkins is ready to compete and get better.

“His expectation is to come in and compete right away, whether that’s for scout team reps, backup reps, first team,” Wagner said. “Whatever that is, he’s going to put his best foot forward.”


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