CLEMSON – Martin Jenkins’ last contest in the Clemson secondary was one to forget
“The last game I played was against West Virginia. I’m definitely ready to get back out there,” the junior said with an understandable emphasis.
In the meantime, he’s dealt with two painful lower body injuries and a lot of frustration. Healthy and working with the ones at field cornerback, Jenkins is closing in on resuming his dream.
Jenkins has chip on shoulder v. UGa
“I can’t even put in words I’ve been so excited about it. Even last night, I just stayed up in my bed thinking about it,” Jenkins said at camp’s close. “It’s a childhood dream of mine. I’m from Georgia. I know a lot of the players and (Georgia) really didn’t like to recruit me.
“I liked the school, but they didn’t come after me so I’ve kind of got a chip on my shoulder from that.”
Those are two real words – and a serious hereditary condition that Jenkins knows all too well now.
He said in layman’s terms it’s an arthritic pain that starts in the hip. Jenkins started feeling the pain in March just after finally feeling healthy from the hernia injury that held him out all of last season.
It was until this May that he was finally diagnosed with the arthritic condition, with a twist.
His dad, Lee, was drafted out of the University of Tennessee as a defensive back by the New York Giants in 1983, but his playing career was cut short with the very same condition – not precisely diagnosed until this year as the root cause of his son’s health issues.
“It was definitely very frustrating because I’m in my dream position since I was a little kid,” the Tigers DB said. “It was my dream, even (going to) Clemson. Since I was in ninth grade I dreamed about playing at Clemson.
“Physically, I know I have what it takes so when you’re not able to go out there and perform and you know can perform. Something comes and hinders you outside of your control – it’s always frustrating.”
Knowing what it did to his Dad’s career, Jenkins was eager to begin on the treatment, which started to kick just in the last couple weeks.
“I was like we really have to get on it.” He said. “Give me the strongest thing you’ve got. That can’t happen to me. I’ve definitely been feeling better and ready to compete and ready to play in a game.”
He has been working alongside a co-starter rotation of Darius Robinson and Garry Peters at field corner, while Peters joins junior Bashaud Breeland on the other side.
Standing 5-10 180, Jenkins was a three-star prospect out of Roswell (Ga.), but he quickly made an impression on the coaches.
“I was blessed with quickness and speed. I worked very hard for that,” he said. “Other than that, my tenaciousness is a part of it. I’m very versatile. I just like to compete. I’ve been undersized my whole life so I have to make up for it somewhere.
“I got to hit hard. I got to hit harder. Even in high school, I kind of had the mentality.”
As a true freshman, he played 62 snaps with a pass breakup, and in 2011, Jenkins got his hand on six passes – starting three of the final four games and playing a career-high 60 snaps at Maryland (two PBUs).
His versatility gives Clemson some options – from corner to nickel to even safety. He’s just ready to get back on the field in a week.
“I don’t believe there is (a spot I can’t play),” Jenkins said. “Wherever my team needs me, I will do whatever I can. I’ve had a little bit of it all.”