The following article is excerpted from a piece published in the AJC. Link to the full article HERE.
It was a tough decision for Ryan Jenkins.
The wide receiver from Lassiter High School committed early to Clemson, where his older brother played football for the Tigers. Then he got a last-minute scholarship offer from Tennessee, where his father starred in football.
Jenkins was part of a sizzling start to Clemson’s recruiting efforts in Georgia this past year. Early on, no out-of-state school recruited Georgia as well as Clemson, which also counted consensus No. 1 Robert Nkemdiche among its early commits.
However, while Clemson finished with a respectable performance in Georgia, it would’ve been a Hall of Fame effort if the Tigers hadn’t lost four of the state’s best in the final stretch.
They all slipped away to SEC schools: Nkemdiche signed with Ole Miss to play with his brother, Grayson DB David Kamara went with Nkemdiche, Jenkins followed in his father’s footsteps at Tennessee, and Peach County WR Demarcus Robinson … well, it’s still confusing why he switched (several times) from Clemson to Florida.
Jenkins talked about recruiting with the AJC:
- What is the most creative thing a college coach did to get your attention? “Probably Butch Jones at Tennessee. He asked me before I came up what my favorite food was, and I told him crab legs. I didn’t think anything of it. But when I got up there to his office, he had crab legs and seafood laid out for me (on my official visit to Tennessee)”
- Who finished runner-up to Tennessee, Clemson? “Yes, it was Clemson.” Is there anything Clemson could’ve done better to get you? “No, nothing more. They did everything perfect. It was just my heart was in Tennessee. You know, Clemson, I really liked the school. My brother (goes) there. I had a good relationship with those coaches. But I’ve been going up to Tennessee since I was three years old. So when they offered, that’s just where my heart was.”
- Your brother plays at Clemson, and your father played Tennessee. You flipped from Clemson to Tennessee. How do you reflect on that? “It was just crazy thinking the whole time I was going to Clemson. When I got that call from Butch Jones, because I hadn’t had an offer from Tennessee, memories started coming in my head from when I was a little kid. So it was hard to turn down.”
- Are you and your brother on speaking terms? “Yeah, my brother, he was a little upset. But he wanted me to go wherever I wanted to go, whatever I (felt) like was best for me. So he was cool with it.”
- What about UGA and Georgia Tech? Was there ever anything between you and the in-state schools? “I was interested in Georgia over the summer. They wanted me to come to Dawg Night, and Coach (Mike) Bobo was telling me that if I performed well at Dawg Night, they were going to offer me. But Dawg Night was after The Opening, and I had planned on committing during The Opening. So, I never got a chance to go Dawg Night and get the offer from Georgia. And Georgia Tech, they never really recruited me. But if they did, they told me I was going to play A-back, so there was no interest there.”
- Which non-Tennessee coach was the nicest? “Probably Coach Elliott, the running backs coach at Clemson who had been recruiting me for a long time. That’s still my boy. We have a great relationship. He was probably the coolest coach.”
- Which coach was not so nice? “I’m still a little bitter about Nick Saban not offering me so I will have to take that out on him the next four years.” What happened there? “I thought they were going to offer me. He had told me that they were real interested and looking to offer, but they never did. I guess I will have to prove them wrong the next four years.” What if Alabama had offered? “I would’ve been really interested in Alabama. I liked the school a lot because I visited twice over the summer. They never pulled the trigger (with an offer), so it is what it is.”
- Which coach was hardest to turn down? “Definitely Clemson with Coach Swinney, because me and Coach Swinney got real close. We become real good friends and all that. But telling him I was going to Tennessee was hard. But it’s a business decision. Because coaches, they treat it as a business. I’m a recruit. I can do that, too. It was a business decision.”
- Biggest recruiting rumor that wasn’t true? “Probably that I went Clemson just because of my brother because that wasn’t the only reason I went there. The truth was I went there because I liked that school, and I thought that was the best option for me at that time. With the offers that I had, I thought Clemson was my best option at the time.
- Biggest secret you kept? “I would say that I really always liked Tennessee. I never really told anybody because they didn’t really offer me until after my senior season. But I always liked Tennessee. They were always really my favorite school, but they never really offered me. I just never spoke about them a lot. But through the whole process, I always liked Tennessee.”
- What was the toughest part of de-committing from Clemson? “Ending the relationships I had with Clemson coaches was probably the hardest part. You know, just letting them know you won’t be attending their school anymore because they had been recruiting me for a long time.”
- What was the conversation like with Dabo Swinney? “I just remembered he was real disappointed and felt like I put him behind the eight ball in recruiting, too, because it was late in the process. I just told him I had to make a business decision and do what was best for me.”
- What advice would you give to a kid who is thinking about de-committing on the right way to handle it? “I definitely tried to make sure that I didn’t disrespect Clemson in any way, shape or form. I let it be known it was no knock on the Clemson’s coaches or that school’s football program. I just committed to Tennessee because it was a better fit for me. It wasn’t because Clemson did anything wrong. It was Tennessee doing all the things right. If somebody goes through that, I would tell them not to knock the school that they are de-committing from. You show them all the respect in the world.”
- Biggest regret? “I don’t really have any regrets. You know, none. I feel like everything happened for a reason. Tennessee offered me for a reason. So I feel like that was the place that God had planned for me.”
- Recruiting advice for high school juniors? “Definitely just go with your heart because with Twitter and college coaches, everybody is trying to pull you in every single direction to which school they want you to go to. But just with your go with your heart. And when you feel like the place is right, just go ahead and commit. Don’t take any more visits after you commit because it just might messed up your head and all that. Go with your heart.”
(Reprinted from the Atlanta Journal Constitution, April 29, 2013. Written by Michael Carvell. Link to the full article HERE.)