Sterling Jenkins committed to Penn State back on May 6th. Since then, he's taken only three visits, which have all been to Penn State. One could say he's pretty confident in his choice. Jenkins is also planning on enrolling early at Penn State, which is especially helpful for an offensive lineman. Jenkins is one of the top players in Pennsylvania for the 2015 recruiting cycle. Check out his newest Hudl tape, when you get the chance. He agreed to talk about his commitment and plenty more. Read on, readers.
It's been some time, but can you share what it was in the end that led you to commit to Penn State?
I think that when it became between Ohio State and Penn State, they're both going to be very successful programs, and they're both going in the same direction. I know that Penn State isn't there right now, and I think they're on the rise. Whenever you have a coach that makes you believe in that vision instead of one who goes trough the motions, I think that's way more effective and it would be way more fun to be a part of that as opposed to somewhere else where you don't really have a plan. So I think that that, along with the fact that they're in state, and I have family relations there, and my whole family was rooting for Penn State, just made everything a whole lot easier for me to pick Penn State.
Tell me about the timing of your decision. Did something specific happen to lead you to being ready to commit?
One thing I wanted to see, I wanted to see how the new Franklin regime came in and did things, so I took a visit up there when I went to the Junior Day. Then I went to the Blue/White game, and there were a bunch of guys committing there. By that point, I knew that Penn State was my number one. After that, I went to Ohio State for spring practice, and I went to Penn State for a spring practice, and I wanted to make sure to get my family up there because I wanted them to see Penn State and see how they feel about it. Then, that time that I got my parents up there, I think it was May 5th, I told Franklin that day that I wanted to commit. I didn't plan on taking official visits anywhere, or unofficial, and I haven't. That was kind of what I wanted to do.
Since your commitment, do you get a lot of contact from other schools, or have you told them that you're happy with your choice?
Ohio State tried calling me a week or so ago, but I think if anything people understand that I'm a full commit and I'm not going anywhere. If I were to go anywhere, it would have been a school I've already seen, and I've already turned those guys down. I don't think there'd be any newcomer that would come along and try to sway me. It's really just been Ohio State one time, but other than that, not so much.
Is enrolling early something you wanted to do going into your recruitment, or is it something that just came up when you realized you could do it?
It's been something I wanted to do. I realized it last year. After football season's over, there's not really much to do aside from train, and I figure that I'll do better if I can train with the team instead of by myself. I talked to my administrators and counselors about it, and they helped me figure out my classes so I can get out in January and still graduate. I found out I could do it this year, I didn't know so much back in May, but we made it work.
So you've decided to not take any other official visits?
No, I wouldn't compromise the fans' trust, or the vision of what the 2015 class is just to go see some places, because I don't plan on decommitting.
How was the game this weekend, and the whole weekend experience in general?
It was really fun. I had been up there for games, but on an official visit they just keep feeding you and feeding you [laughs]. The first time I was hungry was when I got home on Sunday. I really enjoyed watching the guys play and watching them fight. I think they robbed the game from them, but that's just me. Other than that, I think it was a great game, and I think that even though they lost, the recruits could take away exactly what Coach Franklin's trying to say. Believe in the vision, this is what this program is. I think it was a big win for recruiting, and even the turnout was great and the environment was great. All the coaches were still as nice and just who they were before. Especially for me before, they were the same guys they were when they were recruiting me, which is nice.
Tell me about the time you spent with Matt Burrell and Tommy Stevens. How do you feel about those guys and their chances for Penn State, and what all did you talk about?
We've really just been talking Penn State or whatever we see, just having fun. Some guys, I think they try so hard to get in some guys' ears about recruiting, that they kind of miss on the fact that there are the guys they're gonna be with. Then when they commit or something, they won't really have anything to talk about besides recruiting. So I want to get to know them for who they were, talk about football, talk about their life, just getting to know each other. I threw some recruiting pitches in there, I didn't want to seem fake to them, so I just wanted to get to know them because they could be with me for the next few years.
With Matt, I think he's doing a great thing and going through the process. He took longer than me, but people see things in different times, maybe he wasn't as comfortable as I was at a certain time, so he's taking his time. Wherever he goes, he'll be successful, I'm sure. He has a good head on his shoulders. When it comes to Tommy, I really respect him for not...like if he was going to flip, I'm happy he didn't do it this weekend. You don't want to disrespect coaches, and make yourself seem floozy. On his first visit he didn't flip, he's really putting a lot of thought into this, more than just a flip out of nowhere. So I really respect him for that, he's a really great guy. if he goes to Indiana or here, I think he'll be successful, too.
Thinking about you as a player, even though your high school team's had a rough time this season, (from your tape) it seems like you've improved a lot. So tell me about your experiences with your high school team.
I never wanted to make it seem like a crutch, like "oh the team doesn't win a lot" so you don't expect a guy like me to come out of there with as much attention as I got, but I really love those guys and I love the coaches. For me, I really had to focus on just working on my game and getting the team better, instead of the big picture. At first, last year was really a struggle, because I was starting to get all of the attention and it was kind of a weird thing and I think that's why I didn't take too many strides last year. But this year, I strapped down because I want to get all-conference, because I didn't get it last year. I don't think I really deserved it, but things are starting to click now. Linemen need a certain mentality, along with being physically strong enough to take on the guys you're playing against. I think I've made some strides to get to [that mentality].
What do you feel like you have to offer to Penn State?
One thing for sure, a pure offensive lineman. I know that they have a lot of freshmen in there, they had some defensive guys actually make the switch. But I've been training for a few years, and being an offensive linemen, some of these guys trying to make the switch from defense, it's a hard switch, so I think that along will help a lot with learning the plays and understanding the rules. I think that I also bring some character and some leadership. I think that will help me a lot, and maybe guys will see me as a good player and a good guy that they trust and can talk to.
Penn State gets guys out of the Pittsburgh area once in a while. It seems that Franklin wants to focus on bringing more guys out of your area to State College. Do you think there is a shift happening? Do you think more WPIAL kids will start coming to Penn State?
Yeah, I think so for sure. I think one of the easiest things if you're in Pittsburgh is Pitt, it's right there, there's lots of successful guys here. Historically with WPIAL guys or even in general, PItt's done some really good things, they'll point to Larry Fitzgerald or Dorsett, Marino and all them. They have some really notable names there that are relevant to Pittsburgh guys. Historically, I think that's why people say if you go D1 in the WPIAL, you gotta go to Pitt. Stay home, close to family, all that. They're nice recruiting pitches. When it comes to Penn State, they want to do something nationally, and Pitt's more local and they're doing good things. But when Penn State gets on the map and they're playing and beating teams like Ohio State or Michigan, that really puts them on the map on the national scale, and I think that will attract more WPIAL guys. Definitely in the future, I think more guys will come.
Me and Miles Sanders, a lot of guys kind of see him as the best in his class and me as the best in mine, so I think that holds some weight for future recruits.
Thanks to Sterling for taking the time to answer all of these questions. You can follow him on twitter at @S_Jenkins72.