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February 15, 2011
Often times a coach is more than just someone who can teach a player the game he plays. Instead, a coach is often influencing his players off the field as well as on the field. Former Louisiana Tech quarterback Ross Jenkins knows all too well struggles off the field and on the field.
Jenkins went through three head coaches at Tech. He was recruited by Jack Bicknell and redshirted under him, then Derek Dooley was hired by Tech and he played for him for three years, and finally Sonny Dykes was hired right before his redshirt senior year. For offensive coordinators, Jenkins had Conroy Hines, Frank Scelfo and Tony Franklin all during his time at Louisiana Tech.
Jenkins said this of working with all the different offensive coordinators: "It was definitely three different types of styles. I feel like I got a taste of everything and expanded my offensive knowledge about as much as I could."
Each offensive coordinator, as Jenkins said, had their own style. Jenkins said he doesn't remember too much from Hines, as he was a redshirt freshman under his offense, but he added that he still has the playbook from Hines' offense. Scelfo and Franklin had a lot of similar concepts. Scelfo's offense, Jenkins said, was complicated, and every play had a formation, motion, protection and the play. In that offense, Jenkins said he had to read specific defenders before and during the play to know where to throw the ball. Also under Scelfo, he had to have a good knowledge of the run game.
Jenkins added: "[Scelfo] did a great job at Tulane, did a good job for us working around the personnel we had, and now he's consulting at Arizona and they had a good offense this past year."
Then, with Franklin, he said, it was more laid back because it was a progression read as opposed to a coverage read offense.
On playing for Franklin and his offense: "Tony Franklin's offense has been pretty prolific, and that's why he got brought in, and he's put up serious numbers everywhere he has been. It was a lot of fun being in that offense and especially playing quarterback in that offense."
Jenkins hopes one day he can take all the knowledge he learned from the different coordinators and formulate his own style.
"Hopefully I have taken a piece of knowledge from all those different coaches and that will allow me to do my own thing one day," he said.
All Jenkins' life he knew he wanted to do something in football because it is the only thing he has really enjoyed doing. Jenkins also holds an economics degree from Louisiana Tech.
This past season, he says, is when he really realized he wanted to be a coach. After the Grambling game, when Franklin told Jenkins he wouldn't start against Texas A&M, Franklin told him he would like him to help work with quarterbacks, and Jenkins said he embraced it. He said the experience he gained in the couple of weeks leading up to the Hawaii game, when he got a chance to play late in a 24-0 game, was when he knew that coaching is what he wanted to do with his life.
Had there been an opening for a graduate assistant position at Louisiana Tech, Jenkins would have been very interested. Through Franklin's offensive conferences and seminars, Jenkins was able to land his first coaching position at Eastern New Mexico University.
Jenkins went with Franklin to Nashville for his national seminar, and Franklin sent out information about Jenkins to coaches across the country. Franklin pulled Jenkins aside and said he had someone on the phone who wanted to talk to him about a coaching position. Jenkins took the phone, and it was ENMU head coach Mark Ribaudo. He offered Jenkins the inside receivers job, which also gives Jenkins the ability to work towards his graduate degree.
Jenkins' role as a quarterback was a roller coaster this past season, as he started the first game, then was benched and then was pulled in for a spark against Hawaii and never left the helm after that.
During the summer, Jenkins was not named the first starter. That player was Steven Ensminger. Jenkins' roller coaster was not only on the football field, however. In February of 2010, Jenkins was charged with driving under the influence. He paid the consequences and said he was thankful for Dykes, who was only two weeks into his new job, for allowing him to stay with the team. He said he did his share of punishment runs and all kinds of things strength and conditioning coach Damon Harrington could come up with on the field. Legally, Jenkins also served community service and had to attend some classes and counseling sessions.
"[The DUI incident] was just a hurdle I had to get over really quick," Jenkins said.
Approximately a month later, Jenkins' father passed away during spring practice. During that time, Jenkins said he received great support from the coaching staff and his teammates as they helped him get through it. He said he felt like he had to step up for his family and that it was "one of the biggest speed bumps" in his life.
Jenkins said he looks forward to expanding the offense Franklin created by being a coach.
There is no doubt that wherever Jenkins goes he will remember and use everything he has learned on and off the field at Louisiana Tech to his advantage.
Jenkins also said he will always "bleed blue and red."