Jaylen Jenkins: 2022 Pro Prospect Interview
Name: Jaylen Jenkins
School: Bemidji State
What goals did you set and/or accomplish in your final collegiate season?
I guess the only real goals I had for the team and myself was to get to the playoffs & me personally I wanted to just have a way better season than my junior year and start performing like I knew I could. Wasn’t too worried about accolades I knew those would come if I worked hard. I just wanted to improve. Blessed to have earned All-Conference honors in my final year at BSU.
Q: How do you think you took advantage of the extra year of eligibility to increase your chances of going pro?
From the start of 2020 when the world got crazy, I was still working getting better. At home hitting the field hitting the gym getting bigger getting faster & stronger because we only got to do so much as a team back at school and that wasn’t enough for me. The summer of this year before the season came i was at the field with my boys every opportunity we got for like three months. Just out there talking ball, running through drills, whatever it was we getting better someway. I’m more locked into football than I’ve ever been. I also think the year off gave me time to grow up and mature on and off the field and really focus on the impressions that I’m giving to others by my words and my actions.
Q: What would your coaches and teammates say about the type of player you are?
They would say that I’m a competitive dude who hates to lose. They’d also mention that I matured into a leadership role over the years for the team. Coaches would say I’m very coachable, always asking questions always trying to soak up knowledge and catch on to the small things. Pretty good relationship with everyone on the team. Except when we go against our offense in practice, I’m a jerk to those guys.
Q: When you are studying film, what are the things you focus on to improve your game?
For me a big thing is my footwork and use of my hands basically how I can be better the next game at defeating blocks or moving efficiently in the box. I’m always trying to catch on to little things from each game to help me perform better in the next one. I like to prepare for other offenses based on formations and down and distance. If I can pick up on what an offense likes to do out of a particular formation according to down and distance, I can play faster than whoever is coming to block me and get myself a tackle in the backfield. When I’m preparing for a team in the pass game, I like to watch O-line stances, RB body language for when he isn’t getting the ball, route concepts and how the receivers are running their routes. So, when it’s a pass situation I’m thinking of where our weakness is in the coverage. After that, the offense lines up in their formation and I’m thinking about how I can play through my landmark and make a play based on what they’ve shown on tape.
Q: What separates you from the other pro prospects at your position?
I think what separates me from everybody is my IQ and my competitive nature. I understand the game of football very well especially on defense and at Linebacker. It’s the reason I finished my senior year with ten tackles for loss. I’m versatile and agile for the position I play. This year alone, I played all three backer positions for the defense. I have a quick trigger in the run game, I truly take pride in stopping opposing offenses from running the ball. I understand every zone coverage and it’s weak spots and how to bait those weak spots. I can cover receivers in the slot, running backs out the backfield or tight ends. I love to compete, it’s not a better feeling in this world than winning.
Q: What is your offseason plan to train and prepare for professional opportunities?
Build explosiveness and speed, put on healthy weight and take care of my body so that when the Lord blesses me with an opportunity to showcase my talent, I’m ready.
Q: What kind of strengths and abilities will you bring to a team that will stand out both on and off the field?
Just me being myself ya know and being that voice when adversity strikes and keeping everyone positive and level headed. I like to bring that energy to practice and game day and I think my vibe will rub off on my teammates and coaches in a positive way. Making sure my coaches and teammates never see me make the same mistakes on and off the field is something I take serious because the margin for error on game day is very small so gotta make sure I’m doing my part. I will display a strong level of dedication to the game and to doing the little things right so that my teammates and coaches trust and respect that I’m out there going hard doing my job. It’s a lot more that goes into football outside of having pads on, I’ve learned that a team is only as strong as the relationships and attitudes that exist within it. No room for negativity or negative individuals when you’re trying to be successful.
Q: What is your final pitch to the NFL and any other pro leagues?
Take a chance on me! I just need one opportunity to show the world what I’m about. Very agile and instinctive linebacker with a great understanding of defense. Wherever my football career takes me next will have resources for recovery and training that I’ve never experienced before. With these resources I believe that it would help me become a dominant player at the highest level. Whoever takes that chance on me will acquire a coachable and hardworking athlete who’s growth is exponential in this game.