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Bradenton Herald, The (FL) - February 7, 2003

Author: Steven Ponall, Herald Staff Writer

BRADENTON --- MikeJenkins ' decision to stay near home made at least two national powers take notice.

Jenkins , a SuperPrep All-American from Southeast High, signed a national letter-of-intent to play for the University of South Florida in Tampa on Thursday morning.

"I think I surprised a lot of people, but it was the best place for me," Jenkins said. "I have known (USF coach Jim) Leavitt for a while and the distance was a big thing for me."

The surprise was that Jenkins , rated one of the top defensive backs in the nation, turned down offers from Nebraska and Auburn to play for the Bulls, who are entering just their third full season playing at the Division IA level.

The 6-foot, 200-pound Jenkins had 72 tackles, two interceptions, one caused fumble, one fumble recovery, two blocked punts and two blocked field goals at strong safety.

Jenkins , who also runs a 4.35 40-yard dash, will likely play cornerback at the next level.

"We like big cornerbacks," said Leavitt, whose Bulls are coming off a 9-2 season. "We think Mike has the skills to play right away. Mike has so much god-given talent. He has great speed, good size and great awareness on the field."

Jenkins , who was the Herald's Football Player of the Year, joins former Southeast wide receiver Travis Lipp at USF.

In other recruiting news, three players from the Palmetto football team signed letters-of-intent Thursday, while Manatee offensive lineman Victor McCarter signed with Grambling.

Palmetto tight end Josh Coffman signed with Division I East Carolina, while linebacker Micah Mathews and wide receiver Wes Rosenboom signed with perennial Division II powerhouse Carson-Newman College in Jefferson City, Tenn.

Coffman said he didn't worry that his subpar statistics last season might cause Division I recruiters to shy away.

"I stayed confident," said Coffman, a 6-foot-6, 225-pound tight end, who signed with East Carolina of Conference USA despite catching only 19 passes for 416 yards and two touchdowns. "I figured if schools were interested, they would look past (the numbers) and see what I did with the football when I got it."

Coffman is Palmetto's first Division I-A recruit since linebacker Terrence Belvin, who played the last two seasons at Temple University after transferring from Dodge City (Kan.) Community College.

East Carolina, which finished 4-8 last season, is looking to rebound under new head coach John Thompson, the former defensive coordinator at Florida.

Mathews and Rosenbloom are headed to a Carson-Newman program that has won five NAIA national championships since 1982 and went 12-1 last season, losing against Valdosta State in the second round of the Division II playoffs.

Mathews led the Tigers in tackles from his middle linebacker position, and the 6-2, 225-pounder is hoping to play as a freshman for the Eagles. The 5-11, 160-pound Rosenboom, who finished with 15 catches for 232 yards and four touchdowns, is more likely to redshirt.

Bayshore's Jonathon Harris, a defensive end, was expected to sign today with Murray State, a Division I-AA school in Murray, Ky.

In soccer news, Manatee defender Priscilla Henriques and Southeast forward Whitney Sanders signed Thursday with Division I Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C. The two players join Lakewood Ranch midfielder Rachel Wyman, who signed Wednesday with Winthrop.

---Staff Writer Mike Henry contributed to this report.


Southeast standout Jenkins picks USF - The Herald-Tribune Defensive Player of the Year had also considered playing for Nebraska.

Sarasota Herald-Tribune (FL) - February 7, 2003 Author: ALAN DELL CORRESPONDENT

Southeast High defensive back MikeJenkins might have been the last to enter the door, but he could be the first among the University of South Florida 2003 signees to take the field when the Bulls visit Alabama in their season opener next season.

Jenkins , the Herald-Tribune's Defensive Player of the Year and a Super Prep All-American, became the Bulls' 27th recruit when he signed a letter of intent Thursday, joining what head coach Jim Leavitt calls his "best recruiting class."

USF went for defense this year with 20 signees playing on that side of the ball. There are a lot of holes to fill, including a starting cornerback slot that was vacated by senior Maurice Tucker. Jenkins , who wavered back and forth between South Florida and Nebraska until deciding late Wednesday night, hopes to fill that spot.

Known for his speed, athleticism and hard hitting, Jenkins epitomizes what USF's defense has been the last several years.

"Most corners just cover. I like to come up and hit," he said.

Weather, being close to home and a chance to be part of a program that surprised the college football world last season when it went 9-2 in only its second year of Division I-A football, were among the reasons that swayed the six-foot, 185-pounder.

Initially, Jenkins was leaning toward Nebraska. His host when he went to visit the Cornhuskers was Bayshore High DB Fabian Washington, who started last year as a true freshman.

"I visited Nebraska on January 17 and it was freezing," Jenkins said. "The weather played part in my decision. I also wanted to be close to my family and give my mother a chance to see me play. I visited Auburn, but they signed their third DB and I didn't want to deal with.

"The (USF) coaches told me they were going to use me at cornerback and special teams. They said I would play next year, which is good because I didn't want to redshirt. South Florida is an up and coming program that is going in the right direction. I think it will be good to be part of something like that."

USF has four other signees who could be utilized as defensive backs, but Jenkins is the most highly touted. He was rated the 27th best player in Florida by Orlando Sentinel recruiting guru Bill Buchalter and was a first team All-Gridiron selection by FloridaKids.Net, which picks the top players in the state regardless of their position.

USF signee A.J. Bryant from Daytona Beach Mainland High, considered a true cornerback, is rated 92nd by Buchalter. Another CB candidate among this year's signees is Plant City Durant High's Trae Williams.

Jenkins had 42 tackles, two interceptions, two blocked punts and two blocked field-goal attempts. He also was the 'Noles top ground gainer with 859 yards.

"We feel like Mike is a great player and we're excited to have him. He will give us depth right away and we couldn't be more ecstatic than we are to have him," Leavitt said.

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wow thats chill material.

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