MORGANTOWN. W.Va. — Aiming to be healthy for the upcoming season, Brodrick Jenkins receives treatment on his sore right meniscus four to five times a day. The knee that required surgery last fall still encounters swelling that impedes flexibility, so the West Virginia cornerback realizes the time he devotes to the training room may be as crucial as the time he spends on the practice field.
“I’m dealing with it, but when I’m running, the injury is there—I feel it,” Jenkins said. “I mean, I’m not getting any younger. I’m almost 23.”
And while being almost 23 makes him the oldest cornerback on the roster, Jenkins’ edge in experience doesn’t guarantee a starting job. As of Tuesday, he was working with the second unit, playing behind converted safety Travis Bell and Ishmael “Icky” Banks.
“Icky has had a great camp—I can really give it to him,” said Jenkins, who made four starts in 2011 and seven more last season. “I’m not mad about who’s in front of me or nothing like that. I’m just going to keep pushing those guys.”
That WVU’s lone senior cornerback wasn’t automatically plugged into the lineup signifies assistant coach Brian Mitchell has the personnel to avoid a repeat of the awful performances that led to Darron Roberts’ dismissal. Though this unit isn’t deep in bodies—Mitchell is down to six scholarship corners—Jenkins insisted the number of “guys who can actually go out and help the team is a lot better from last year.”
Take Bell, for example, a backup at safety in 2012 who received a medical redshirt after tearing his pectoral muscle against Maryland in Week 3. He rehabbed enough to suit up for spring practice and appeared headed for another year as a backup, at least until being summoned to the office of safeties coach Tony Gibson two days before the Gold-Blue game.
“I thought I was in trouble or something,” joked Bell, who instead learned that coaches wanted him to try cornerback. “I was kind of happy. I knew I had a chance to start because I knew we were stretched at corner.”
A mere 48 hours later Bell made an interception in the spring game, and the transition carried over through summer 7-on-7 drills and into preseason camp. The 6-foot-1 junior stands three inches taller than Jenkins and represents the rangy body WVU coaches envision matching up against the Big 12’s outside receivers.
“Aw, man, Travis is probably one of the perfect fits for it,” Jenkins said. “Nice physical guy who can run. I see what they wanted in him to bring him over from safety. And having the knowledge of playing safety gives him a good edge.”
Of course Jenkins acquired plenty of knowledge himself during four years at WVU, having seen cornerbacks run hot and cold.
“We’ve still got another week of camp,” he said, “and the depth chart always changes.”