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Mackey: Baldwin's Jenkins committed to current team

| Saturday, March 1, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

You tend to hear a lot of the same things while talking to high school student-athletes about their college choices.

Loved the campus. Clicked with the coaching staff. Felt comfortable there.

All are fine, but they tend to blend together.

Baldwin offensive tackle Sterling Jenkins resists the cliché.

Runs the other way, really.

Though he's a four-star recruit, rated the sixth-best offensive tackle in the country by Rivals.com and holds offers from Penn State, Ohio State and Michigan — among others — Jenkins has no plans of to commit any time soon.

The reason might surprise you.

“I know a lot of guys will say they want to commit early to get it out of the way and focus more on the team,” Jenkins said. “But I think it's a big decision, and I don't want to commit to another team while I still have more to give to my team.

“I feel like I owe more to my guys. I have to fulfill my goals with my team before I can commit to another one.”

Can't say I've heard that one before.

I also haven't met many 6-foot-8, 300-pound dishwashers at Eat'n Park, which is what Jenkins does for extra money.

Jenkins is relatively new to football, having picked up the sport in middle school.

He said he hit a major setback his first year of high school when, expecting to play JV, he was kept on the freshman team.

“That really upset me,” Jenkins said. “I didn't feel like I had what it takes.”

Highlanders coach Pete Wagner has been working with Jenkins on his mobility, locking onto defenders and finishing his blocks.

Still, “He has some development needs in terms of offensive line play,” Wagner said.

Which is why a school with a plan suited to Jenkins' development may just land the soon-to-be senior.

And it doesn't necessarily have to be solely about football.

“I want to be able to grow in all aspects of … not just football, individually, too,” Jenkins said. “If I went to a school that was just some NFL factory that treated every player like a piece of meat, I don't feel like I'd be growing.”

Jenkins attended Penn State's Junior Day on Feb. 15 and came away impressed with coach James Franklin and offensive line coach Herb Hand.

One of Penn State's biggest selling points for Jenkins, Wagner said, was “the growth plan for him. Just continuing to make the transition not only from high school to college but also how they see him on a yearly basis and how he fits with their plans.”

How Jenkins fits with Baldwin, though, remains his top concern.

Only a few years removed from having trouble overcoming constant holding penalties, Jenkins knows he needs to refine his technique and understanding of the game.

Also — and this is a big one in Jenkins' mind — to help Baldwin win a few more games.

“That's the main reason I want to wait on committing,” Jenkins said. “I want to be able to fulfill the goals I have for this season before I commit to another team.”

Jason Mackey is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jmackey@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Mackey_Trib.

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