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Mississippi State's Elgton Jenkins: From Overlooked to Elite

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Mississippi State's Elgton Jenkins: From Overlooked to Elite

By Paul Jones Oct 26, 8:48 AM

In January of his senior season at Clarksdale High School, Elgton Jenkins was anxiously awaiting to see whether or not he would have the opportunity to play SEC football. It was getting late in the recruiting process and on a last-minute notice, he was invited to officially visit Mississippi State that January.

As things progressed that weekend in Starkville, Jenkins eventually got the opportunity he craved. It was an offer from the Bulldogs, which would turn out to be his lone Power 5 offer. Once that moment happened, Jenkins made a promise to his mother and never looked back.

These days, the Mississippi State fifth-year senior is regarded as one of the nation's top centers. And he remembers fondly that conversation he had with his mother nearly five years ago.

"I never thought I would be in the position I'm in now," recalled Jenkins. "But when I got the offer from Mississippi State, I told my mom that I was going to go to Mississippi State, put my head down and just grind. That is what I did and that is what got me to this point today."

It didn't take long for Jenkins to prove his worth either. After a redshirt year in 2014, Jenkins immediately broke into the offensive line rotation and ended up getting a couple of starts as a redshirt freshman. He ended up drawing starts at both tackle positions and both guard positions before becoming the Bulldogs' starting center in 2017.

While at center, Jenkins has been downright dominant. He has not allowed a Mississippi State quarterback to be sacked or even hit during his 597 career snaps at center. And this season, he has not drawn a penalty in 423 snaps.

"I had an offensive line coach in high school and he always was big on being physical and dominating people," said Jenkins. "So when I got up here, I really had to freshen up my techniques and things like that. My offensive line coach now (Marcus Johnson) is just putting the polishing touch on things now to help me and it makes me a better player."

Yes, it is hard to find a weakness in Jenkins' game. But last offseason, he knew one area that had to improve and that involved his snapping. In 2017 he did have several low snaps but that has not been the case this season.

"It was about using the offseason to work on your craft," said Jenkins. "I used this offseason to get better at the small things to up my game and that concerned my snapping, too."

This weekend, Jenkins and company face another SEC challenge as Texas A&M visits Davis Wade Stadium and the Aggies present one of the top run defenses in the conference. Of late, the offense has struggled to put points on the board in SEC outings and to change that trend, Jenkins said everyone has to pull their own weight.

"Our group strives on working as one," said Jenkins. "When we are talking to the offense as a whole, we always say we're 11 working as one, everyone doing their 1/11th and doing their job. We just have to polish up some things and we will get the offense rolling in the second half of the season."

And Jenkins wants to make sure he soaks up every moment of his remaining games in Starkville. It hit him hard as he ran on the field for the Bulldogs' season opener and wants his teammates to join him in that sense of urgency in the final five games of the season.

"When we played our first game, it was my last season opener to run out of that tunnel," said Jenkins. "I had a couple of tears coming down. And now we're on the second half of the season. So I always tell my Olinemen and the younger Olinemen to not miss out on things like that.

"Everybody says we got five more weeks and we are going to make the best of these last five weeks. We want to win out and just win out."


As noted, Jenkins is playing at a high level and is steadily drawing the interest from NFL scouts on a weekly basis. He's been mentioned as one of the top center prospects for the 2019 NFL Draft. Not bad for a guy rated as the No. 1,663 prospect in the Class of 2014 by 247Composite.

For now, all of that talk can wait, said Jenkins.

"I always strive to think about the things happening now," said Jenkins. "That deals with getting the offense moving in games and things like that. So that is mostly what I am paying attention to."

Over the course of his career, Jenkins has given NFL scouts a lot to think about and that centers around his versatility. He has played every spot on the offensive line and that only improves his resume when the NFL Draft comes around.

"It helps a lot," said Jenkins. "It shows that a team can plug me in any position they want and I will be able to help that team out."

"Today I got reps at left guard in practice. So it doesn't matter what position I am playing and I can play all positions. But playing center for two years and being more advanced now scheming defenses or whatever, center has been a good fit."

Of course, facing those weekly tests in the SEC has also made Jenkins up his game in the trenches. When asked which SEC defensive lineman has given him the most trouble on the field, he took a moment to absorb that question.

His response did not single out an opposing SEC player, however. In fact, it was someone that he sees on a daily basis at practice.

"To be honest, I would have to say my toughest competition happens in practice," said Jenkins. "I whole heartedly believe that Jeffery Simmons is the best defensive tackle in the nation. He gives me those looks in practice and he has the stamp on that."

In a few months, Jenkins and Simmons will both be gearing up for their opportunities at the next level. With both guys expected to go early in the NFL Draft, Jenkins joked that Simmons will probably be the one treating him for dinner based on Simmons' draft prospects.

"I think he will have to take my out for dinner," said Jenkins with a laugh. "Because he will probably get drafted before me."


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4 minutes ago, Summerhill said:

I like the sound of him. Frequently, centers are not physical specimens but just tough, nasty guys, so it is not unexpected for a good one to get overlooked in the recruiting process. It would seem he should be available with the Falcons 2nd round pick

That's what I'm hoping for.

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3 hours ago, Summerhill said:

I like the sound of him. Frequently, centers are not physical specimens but just tough, nasty guys, so it is not unexpected for a good one to get overlooked in the recruiting process. It would seem he should be available with the Falcons 2nd round pick. 

this is great.

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