Elgton Jenkins was not heavily recruited out of Clarksdale High School two years ago.
The former three-star offensive tackle held only four mid-major offers before Mississippi State extended a scholarship during his official visit just three days before national signing day.
Jenkins committed on the spot along with high school teammate J.T. Gray and is now one of more promising young linemen on the Bulldogs’ roster.
Jenkins spent his initial year as a redshirt as he worked to improve his knowledge of the game as well as get bigger.
“The redshirt year helped me a lot,” Jenkins said. “I got stronger, faster and learned more stuff. When I first got here I was 285 and now I’m 305. My bench and squat went up tremendously because of the strength coaches. When I go back home people will ask me if they have us eating horses and big animals.”
With Blaine Clausell graduating, Jenkins saw this past spring as an opportunity to climb the depth chart and compete for playing time. During those 15 practices, he passed junior Cole Carter and is now MSU’s second team left tackle behind senior Rufus Warren.
“I knew after that redshirt year that it was all go from there,” Jenkins said. “I knew if I wanted to play then I had to go out there and work hard and show my coaches that I was dedicated to the program.”
Although Jenkins earned second team Class 5A all-state honors and played in the Bernard Blackwell All-Star game, the competition level he faces each day at MSU tests him just as much mentally as it does physically.
“It’s a big difference,” Jenkins said. “Everybody that you face here has got talent. If you approach it that you can be them, you can. But if you think they’re better than you then that’s what the outcome will be.”
The confidence level that Jenkins has shown so far is exactly what offensive line coach John Hevesy is looking for as he searches for right combinations this fall.
“I have no problem playing 2s,” Hevesy said. “If you’re confident in what you’re doing and the four guys around you are confident about you going into a game, I have zero problem playing you. But if you don’t meet those characteristics, it’s hard to put you on the field because you’ll get someone hurt.”
Although the Bulldogs are in the midst of fall camp, Jenkins is already eying his first opportunity to see the field in the opener at Southern Miss on Sept. 5.
“Right now I’m as anxious as it gets,” Jenkins said. “I really want to go out and show my talents and show what I’ve learned to help my team.”