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Trib Article on Jenkins

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The Tampa Tribune

Published: April 27, 2008

BRADENTON - At 6 p.m. Saturday, the words University of South Florida cornerback Mike Jenkins had waited a lifetime to hear came blaring through the television inside a jampacked Days Inn conference room.

"With the 25th pick in the 2008 NFL draft, the Dallas Cowboys select Mike Jenkins, defensive back, South Florida," said NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

Kathy Gray, Jenkins' mother, who hoped and prayed for this day since Jenkins' days at Bradenton Southeast, never heard a word Goodell said: She had passed out on the floor.

Gray, who has diabetes, said she suffered a diabetic seizure.

"Everyone was cheering before the announcement; after that I don't know what happened," Gray said. "I don't remember being on the floor. The next thing I know I was in the ambulance."

Gray was fine shortly afterward and back inside the hotel conference room, celebrating with her son, who made history by becoming the first USF first-round NFL draft pick in program history.

Jenkins was projected to be selected anywhere after the seventh pick. He thought he would go at No. 10 to New Orleans, which came to Tampa last week to put Jenkins through a personal workout.

However, the Saints traded up to No. 7 and selected USC defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis.

"I thought I would go higher than No. 25," Jenkins said. "When the Saints traded out of No. 10, I think that hurt me. They passed over me. In fact, a few other teams passed over me."

Including the hometown Bucs, who had the No. 20 pick. Just two days before the draft, Jenkins and Bucs GM Bruce Allen sat together inside the Hip Hop Soda Shop on Fowler Avenue.

Allen did not mince words.

"He said definitely if you're there at No. 20, we'll take you," Jenkins said.

So when the Bucs picked Kansas cornerback Aqib Talib, Jenkins said he was "a little disappointed."

Seattle was on the clock to make the 25th pick when Jenkins' cell phone rang.

"I couldn't hear, all I heard him say was 'Dallas,'" Jenkins said. "I think it was the GM. He said, 'Are you standing up or sitting down?' I said, 'Sitting down.' He said, 'Stand up, I'm about to tell you something good: You're a Dallas Cowboy.'

"When they called it confused me. I said, 'You're not on the board.' He said, 'Keep looking at the TV.'"

Word quickly spread through the conference room - conservative guess was there were more than 100 family and friends or twice as many people as the room was designed to hold - that Jenkins had received word.

Dallas traded up from No. 28 to No. 25 to pick Jenkins.

"The value for him was exceptional," Cowboys coach Wade Phillips said. "And we had to make a move."

USF coach Jim Leavitt said watching the NFL draft brought back memories of 2001.

"It reminded me when we had the three consecutive picks Kenyatta Jones, Anthony Henry and Bill Gramatica to start the fourth round," Leavitt said. "I was up in the air when Mike was selected. I was so excited.

"These things happen for a reason."

Jenkins said he's thrilled to play with Henry, whose last season at USF was 2000.

"I know I'm going to a playoff team with a chance at a Super Bowl run," Jenkins said.

Gray said even though her son made history, it wasn't one of the happiest days of her life.

"But," she joked, "it was one of the happiest days of my life that I've passed out. I'm thankful."

She was asked if she was looking forward to watching the tape of her son getting drafted. She then realized she forgot to do something before leaving her home.

"Oh no," she said. "I hope somebody taped it for me."

Reporter Brett McMurphy can

be reached at (813) 259-7928

or bmcmurphy@tampatrib.com.

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Someone needs to get her that youtube link, but seriously it sucks that she missed out on what could end up being one of her son's greatest moments.

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