Jenkins last line of Brook’s defense

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, September 27, 2006

R.J. Jenkins and his Brookhaven teammates were staring at a 12-0deficit in the second quarter, trailing the Mendenhall Tigers in acrucial Region 6-4A showdown. Jenkins and his teammates made somehalftime adjustments and rallied for a 32-18 triumph on KingField.

In the comeback, Jenkins (6-2, 165) intercepted two passes,recovered a fumble in the end zone, and was credited with threetackles. For his performance the senior free safety has beenselected The DAILY LEADER’s Defensive Player of the Week for thefifth week of the 2006 season.

Playing safety isn’t a new experience for Jenkins. He has been a3-year starter for the Panthers, including the 2004 statechampionship season.

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“Safety is the last line of defense,” said Jenkins, a brightsmile lighting his face. “If they (opponents) get past me, theyscore. I like safety because you get to see the whole field.”

Jenkins said the coaching staff made the necessary halftimeadjustments. “They did a great job correcting our mistakes. We wentto work and took care of business in the second half,” outscoringMendenhall 25-6.

His fumble recovery against Mendenhall, killed an apparenttouchdown. He also intercepted the Tigers’ quarterback in the endzone.

“R.J. is a smart player,” said Ole Brook head coach TuckerPeavey. “He’s got a lot of experience. This is his third year to bea starter back there.

“He’s a first class guy, too,” continued Peavey. “He’s a leaderfor us. R.J. always does the right thing, on and off the footballfield.”

In the weight room, Jenkins bench presses 220 pounds. He runs a4.7 in the 40-yard dash. He also plays the outfield and second baseon the BHS baseball team, as well as midfielder on the soccersquad.

“R.J. has some height and he has gotten faster in the last year,and that has helped him as much as anything,” said Peavey.

An honor roll student, Jenkins is leaning towards a career inindustrial engineering. Mississippi State is his first choice inthat department.

His parents are Roy and Claretta Jenkins. His father is a NorthPike graduate and his mother played basketball for Tylertown. Hisyounger brother, Cameron, is a BHS junior who plays the tuba in theaward-winning school band.

Ole Brook defensive coordinator Rod Henderson said he haswatched Jenkins steadily mature as a player. “R.J. is dependable.He’s a great individual on and off the field. He always responds.He’s willing to listen and work hard.”

Joining Jenkins in the BHS secondary are strong safety JerrellBuie and cornerbacks Jewaun Washington and Kayondray Powell.Against Mendenhall, linebacker Bo Smith and Buie also interceptedpasses.

Jenkins said, “Coach Henderson is a great guy and he’s veryintense. When you see the look on his face, you know you let himdown. I don’t want to let him down.”

Patrick Hardy coaches the BHS secondary. Jenkins complimentedHardy, too. “Coach Hardy is a great teacher. He takes pride in whathe does. He makes sure his guys work harder than anybody else.”

Jenkins always gives credit to God for giving him the ability toplay football. His family attends Greenwood Missionary BaptistChurch. In his spare time, Jenkins enjoys flying his remote controlairplane.

The Panthers (3-2, 1-1) visit the pass-happy Florence EaglesFriday night for another region test. Jenkins and his teammateswill be looking for more interceptions.