WVU lineman finally healthy

| Friday, March 16, 2012

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Josh Jenkins spent much of last season wondering why he was forced yet again to deal with injury-prone knees.

"The last time I got hurt, that's all I could think," he said. "'Three times, three times with a knee injury?' I don't know. Maybe because they know I can get through it.

"I really don't know why it happened."

Despite a lack of answers, Jenkins is grateful to be healthy for his senior season at West Virginia and is slated to start at left guard this season.

"I love the game of football," he said. "I wouldn't want to be done playing because of a knee injury. Hopefully I can go out my own way instead of a knee injury."

Jenkins sprained his left MCL during last year's spring game. Though the MCL healed during the rehab process, team doctors felt his kneecap was unstable, so he underwent surgery on July 5th, ending his season.

It was the third serious knee injury he had faced in college. Jenkins dislocated the same knee during his freshman year, cutting his season short after five games.

Then, during Jenkins' junior year, a defender landed on Jenkins' right knee during a game, and he wasn't able to bend it. He had his knee scoped and missed two games.

Realizing he would miss the entire 2011 season with the latest injury was difficult.

"You hit rock bottom," he said. "All you're doing is laying on your back, leg up, staring at the ceiling. ... Everything's running through your head. It changes your outlook on things."

Jenkins tried to make the most of his situation. He watched film and tried to stay mentally involved with the team. But there was only so much he could do.

"Sometimes you feel like you're not part of the team because you're not everywhere at all times," he said. "There's times you're in the training room while everyone else is practicing.

"It's just a hard process, but the thing is it made me stronger. I'm a stronger person in football and just in general in life. It taught me about adversity. I think that was one of the biggest things. It just taught me a lot."

Jenkins' return boosts an offensive line that brings back five players with starting experience. Despite the injuries, Jenkins has started 22 games and brings leadership to the line. He's the one to get on players, making sure they're working hard and getting better.

Jenkins hopes his return, along with the other experience on the line, will stabilize a unit that had ups and downs last season.

"I've been here for a while," he said. "I've been that kid that's not as physical. I've been the kid that didn't know the plays. I've been the kid that was messing up before.

"Now that I'm old, you have to have a passion. I hate losing. I want to be the best. I feel like everyone that's playing next to me on the line should feel the same way, and I feel like everyone should work hard every play. That's what we try to get out of each other."

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