Joe Gaiter: What does football mean to you?
Rashaad Jenkins: As cliche as it sounds football means the world to me. I have been playing since I was 5 years old and it has taken me places and brought me experiences that I would have never even imagined. I incorporate the lessons I’ve learned on the field to everyday life off of the field. Football has always been a cornerstone in my life that I will forever be grateful to play the game.
Joe Gaiter: Tell us about your childhood?
Rashaad Jenkins: My childhood was filled with nothing but support from my parents and people who surrounded and loved me. Having that solid foundation growing up has always been something I have leaned on to this day.
Joe Gaiter: What are your fondest memories about Episcopal High School?
Rashaad Jenkins: Friday “Knight” lights is what we called it. It’s a unique experience being that it’s a such a small school with large community the energy at every game was crazy and of course the best memories are with the friends that I have made on the team which are still close to me today.
Joe Gaiter: Tell us about your recruitment experience.
Rashaad Jenkins: I didn’t have a glamorous recruiting experience. At one point doubt started to creep in that I wouldn’t be playing college football until I got a phone call from Coach Chadwick Germany. He always looked out for me from when he was coaching high school football in Baton Rouge to him being a coach at Southern and eventually when he landed the job at Jackson State. He just believed in me since the beginning and gave me a chance. All I needed was to get my foot in the door.
Joe Gaiter: Why did you choose Jackson State?
Rashaad Jenkins: I chose JSU because it was a chance to get away from Baton Rouge without being too far. I felt it would be the best opportunity to be focused and excel at my craft.
Joe Gaiter: What has been your contribution to JSU team this season?
Rashaad Jenkins: Started all 12 games. 48 tackles, 4 ints, 2 pbus, 1 FR, 0.5 TFL
Joe Gaiter: Jackson State was 4-8 last season. What went wrong in your opinion?
Rashaad Jenkins: This 4-8 season was not the standard we set and it didn’t meet our expectations. We have to learn how to fight through adversity because it is bound to happen during a game, but it’s about how you respond. Also when you do take a lead you can’t get relaxed or complacent because that’s when you have a lack of attention to detail. This season served as a big lesson of what we can and can’t do moving towards next season. I feel that we didn’t finish and some instances we didn’t start fast. We have to remember that the game is 60 minutes and it’s never over until the clock hits 0. Whether we are up or down. I feel that this learning curve will propel us to take us over this hump next season.
Joe Gaiter: Tell us about JSU game-day atmosphere.
Rashaad Jenkins: It’s a unique experience having the tiger walk where we greet the fans coming into the stadium to warming up as Thee Sonic Boom Marches in and you just feel the energy buzzing around the stadium as kickoff draws near.
Joe Gaiter: What makes you such a great Defensive Back?
Rashaad Jenkins: I focus more on what I can correct rather than my accomplishments. Even if it is something minor it will play a major role and allow me to separate myself. I pride myself on being a student of the game so I can beat my opponents mentally before we are on the field physically. Then I just approach everyday trying to be better than what I was the day before.
Joe Gaiter: What is your motivation?
Rashaad Jenkins: My grandparents are my motivation because 3/4 of them never have gotten the chance to see me play collegiality but before they all passed one way or another they told me “whatever you do, do your best” and I just hope I am making them proud. I do it for those who didn’t get the opportunity to play because I know I could have been in that position. Finally I just want to shed a positive light in Baton Rouge and show the talent that comes from that city and God-willing go to the NFL.
Joe Gaiter: Who are some athletes we need to keep on our radar?
Rashaad Jenkins: The whole team because I feel like everyone is expecting us to repeat last year and I know that’s not the standard we are playing to next season.
Joe Gaiter: You were 3x All-District and Track State Champion in high school. How do you incorporate track and field knowledge into your football?
Rashaad Jenkins: It taught me mental toughness and how to finish. Don’t worry about what’s going on in the next lane, but focus on your race and control what you can control.
How have you faced adversity?
Rashaad Jenkins: My adversity I feel was mentally. I was able to excel in high school but college that success was not immediate. That is when my faith grew stronger and I strengthen my relationship with God because that’s who I have always leaned on. So as my college seasons progressed, I wasn’t getting much playing time until my sophomore season on the field after being redshirted. That’s when you start questioning what are you doing wrong everyday and try to over correct things. But it was just a test to prepare me to elevate myself to another position.
Joe Gaiter: How have you been staying active during the off-season?
Rashaad Jenkins: I still manage to workout everyday whether I go on the levee or find high schools in the area that are still open. I have managed to still be active.
Joe Gaiter: What is your untold story?
Rashaad Jenkins: I feel that I have always been over looked despite the success I had in high school. I didn’t get much recognition which fueled me to work even harder. Moving on to college and still feeling like I have always had something to prove because I wasn’t always in the position that I am in now. My hard work has taken further than my talent has and I have always prided myself on that. It’s never about how you get to the door but it is about what you done you get through the door.
Joe Gaiter: What do you want your legacy to be?
Rashaad Jenkins: I want to be known for helping hoist the SWAC championship and Celebration Bowl trophies at the end of the season. More importantly, I want to be known as the guy who worked hard everyday in the weight room and practice field and not just on Saturday’s when the lights were on. Never have been worried about accolades but did I make a difference for the team to help win the rings.
Joe Gaiter: What are you grateful for?
Rashaad Jenkins: My family and everyone who loves and supports me. For the game of football that has molded me to the man everyone sees today. The adversity that has helped my faith grow and God allowing me to succeed.
Joe Gaiter: Final Words?
Rashaad Jenkins: Don’t worry about the next man and complain why you aren’t in his spot. Continue to work hard every day and be prepared for the moment that your number is called. Prepare everyday like it is your last day playing and don’t take these opportunities for granted.
Joe Gaiter: Shout out?
My parents Shawn Jenkins and Debbie Sands.
Coach Jimmy Williams who set the standard for me back at Episcopal.
Juavon Brown for the constant motivation and helping me to push myself to elevate
My secondary “The Jackboyz”
Everyone who supports me day in a day out
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