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All-state offensive lineman talks about Baldwin football, outlook for next season

| Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Baldwin's Sterling Jenkins, a 6-foot-8, 300-pound junior, recently was named to the 2013 Pennsylvania Football Writers' Class AAAA all-state team.

Jenkins was lauded for his play on Baldwin's offensive line, and was joined by five other offensive linemen on the Quad-A all-state team — Erie McDowell's Scot Augustine, St. Joseph Prep's Jon Daniel Runyan, Mt. Lebanon's Alex Bookser, Bethel Park's Michael Grimm and Council Rock South's Eric Gallo.

Jenkins helped lead the Fighting Highlanders into the WPIAL Class AAAA playoffs for the first time since 20009.

Baldwin, a wild-card playoff entry, lost in the first round to this year's WPIAL Class AAAA champion Central Catholic to end up 4-6 overall.

Jenkins was one of eight Baldwin gridders selected all-conference, along with Nick Barca (RB), Luke Smorey (WR), Josh Zinsmeister (TE), Doug Altavilla (QB), Dustin Pyeritz (C), Enzo Ruscitto (DL) and Davontae Evans (DL).

Jenkins, who has been rated among the top high school football recruits in the country by several scouting services, is being recruited by the likes of Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio State, Penn State, Pitt and Tennessee.

We caught up with Jenkins during the holiday break, and tossed some questions his way about Baldwin football:

Q. What are your thoughts on being selected Class AAAA all-state?

A. It really is special and an honor to be all state. It's a step in the right direction toward where I want to be with my football career. I'm very proud to have become all state.

Q. What are your thoughts on your performance this past season?

A. There's always a growing aspect throughout a season, and with the help of the team and our coaches, they helped me better myself. There's still a lot of room for improvement however.

Q. What are your thoughts on the team's performance this past season?

A. We took a step in the right direction, for sure. We're looking to take another one this year.

Q. What are the expectations for the Baldwin football team in 2014?

A. To continue to push the limits, and do more than we've been told we can do. That's the only option now, do or die.

Q. Do you have any personal goals in football you'd like to achieve in your senior year?

A. I just want to keep getting better. I still have my goals I want to accomplish. I really want to start fulfilling my potential, and better myself as a player. I really want to fulfill my role more than that of being a big player. I want to be a good high school football player.

Q. How is the college recruiting process going? Which schools have you been talking to?

A. (I've been talking to) mostly Michigan, Penn State and Tennessee; Ohio State, as well. The bonds with those (schools') coaches have been improving recently.

Q. Who have been the biggest influences for you in your football career?

A. I'd say (Cleveland Browns lineman) Jason Pinkston, since he's from Baldwin and (he) made the whole idea of success being (something that can happen) closer to home. A lot of people think greatness is for a chosen few, that you're born with it. He's from my hometown, and it shows me that it's only (through) hard work and dedication that let people have success, and that greatness isn't for a chosen few.

Q. Who's your favorite NFL player? Any particular reason why?

A. I'd say Jon Ogden, because a lot of people who are football savvy say my body type reminds them of Jon's. He's a great offensive tackle and one if the best.

Q. What does it mean to you to play football for the Baldwin Fighting Highlanders?

A. Well, I came here from Homestead and didn't play football until middle school. Being a Highlander showed me that changing tradition is hard work but the end product is worth it. Being a Highlander represents the struggle of the underdog, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Q. Is there any significance to why you wear uniform No. 72?

A. When I was deciding on what new number I wanted in my varsity career, it was between 72 or 75, alluding to my father being born in 1972 and my stepmother's birth year of 1975.

Q. What is your favorite subject in school? Please explain.

A. I love any subject in which I can write. There's such a difference between it from everything else because your words portray you and only you, and that in itself is amazing and intriguing to me.

Q. What is your favorite Baldwin football memory?

A. My favorite memory is the win over Plum (during) my sophomore year. That was our first home game, and we had a shutout — my first varsity shutout — and the whole team was in the locker room dancing and having a great time after the game. It was in that moment when I realized that these are my brothers, and this is my home as a Fighting Highlander.

Q. Do you have a nickname?

A. I have so many nicknames. I have Big Ster, Tree, Fat Ster, Donkey, Dr. J, and there's a lot more. I don't know why people make all these names but it's funny ... ha-ha-ha.

Q. Who has the best nickname on the team?

A. I'd have to say Doug Altavilla has the best nickname of Dougie Reps. He starts at quarterback for the varsity football team, starts and contributes a lot to the school's basketball team, used to do track in the mix, and holds a 4.2 GPA. So obviously, he gets a lot of reps; hence the nickname.

Ray Fisher is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5820 or rfisher@tribweb.com.

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