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Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Q&A: 2015 OT Jenkins talks Penn State

By Josh Moyer

Class of 2015 offensive tackle Sterling Jenkins (Pittsburgh, Pa./Baldwin) is a big prospect in a lot of ways.

He already boasts double-digit offers -- from the likes of Penn State, Michigan and Ohio State -- and he stands 6-foot-8, 295 pounds. He'll take his first-ever trip to Happy Valley next Wednesday, and NittanyNation recently caught up with him for a Q&A about his thoughts on PSU, grabbing early offers and why he's not focused on basketball.

NittanyNation: So, I've got to get this question out of the way. You're 6-foot-8, right? How is basketball not your sport?

Sterling Jenkins: [Laughs] Yeah, I've just always been tall. I'm going to say I was like 6-3, 6-2, in sixth grade. And I've played basketball from like fourth grade to ninth grade, but I stopped playing just so I could focus on football.

I remember thinking, at the end of basketball, I'd be looking forward more to football. But, at the end of football, I'd be looking forward more to basketball. But when I got a whole bunch of looks from colleges in ninth grade, it was like, 'OK, I was never really that good at basketball anyway.' So football was my sport.

NN: It's early for you, but do you have a top school or two at this point?

SJ: Really, I don't have any favorites. I'm not the type of guy who's going to commit as soon as a big school offers, because I know even 2016 recruits -- which is crazy -- commit to Alabama and whatnot. But I think that's not smart.

So the schools I like this early in the process, it's going to come down to the the coaches and the recruiters with what they're teaching me and everything. I'll get deeper into my recruitment this fall or winter and next year, and that's when I'll be looking at the finer details, like their history and all that type of stuff. If I have a good relationship with the recruiters and coaches, I feel like more could come out of that.

NN: I thought it was interesting you called the 2016 stuff crazy. So I'm curious about your take on the seventh-grade WR who earned a Kentucky offer. What'd you think when you saw that?

SJ: I guess they think that first offer will mean something special, and that's why they do it. It does, sort of, but it shouldn't. There's a lot of guys in youth football who could be 40 pounds heavier and be the best lineman, but that doesn't mean they should get a scholarship. Just because you're a monster in youth football doesn't mean you'll be one in high school. Scholarships that early are too much of a gamble.

NN: So if a big school like USC came knocking on your door later in the process, you wouldn't put them behind the pack of guys who were on you early, like Penn State and Ohio State?

SJ: I don't know. But if they came in and they're recruiting me like Penn State and Ohio State are now -- where their recruiters follow me on Twitter and stuff -- and they treat me with the same type of respect, then I wouldn't put them behind, just because they came later.

NN: Let me take this one back to Penn State. What is your overall take on that program?

SJ: Well, I know a lot of people look down on them because, 'Oh, Sandusky,' and all that. But even when I was in Chicago [for a camp], people would talk about that and how they're really not interested because of that. But I feel like I can look past that, and I know they want to come back to their former glory -- because my grandma talks my ear off about it all the time, because her brother went there, and his two sons went to play football there.

My great uncle was like a running back. I got a lot of family that went to Pitt and Penn State, but she always tells me how the school's out in the open, and she thinks I would get a good education there. So I want to check it out -- not to appease her, but because I'm interested.

NN: What are you hoping to get out of this Penn State trip anyway?

SJ: What I'm really focusing on right now is how the coaches treat their players. I want to know if they're not really nurturing their players and stuff, like I heard some colleges do. So I want to see how they treat their players, how they value them and really the kind of relationship we would have.

And Coach [Charles] London, he was really cool. He said, 'What do you want to do?' I said I wanted to go see English professors, and he said, 'OK, we'll let you talk with some professors in that department.' He wants to show me they have something that I could take from. I'm getting a real good vibe from him.

NN: OK, so you have PSU connections -- but you live really close to Pitt. What are the connections there?

SJ: Well, my dad went to Pitt, my mom went to Pitt, my aunt and my grandpa. I've just always been around that campus. I would go to the library, and there was a big dinosaur there. I'd play Frisbee right outside, ever since I was 7.

NN: Final question, Sterling. You're a big guy with big goals, but what's your No. 1 aim this offseason?

SJ: I want to weigh more than 300 pounds. I want to hit that and stay there, because when some people write about me, I'm 305 and then I'm 295 later. I want to stay at 300 -- and I really want to work on my footwork, so I'll be better in pass protection.