With just days to go until Texas Tech starts preseason practice Saturday, we continue our individual player outlooks. We’ve examined some of the incoming freshmen for the past few days, and here’s another.
Under the Microscope: Middle linebacker Malik Jenkins.
I wouldn’t expect Malik Jenkins to come in and play right away this season. He’s at middle linebacker, where coaches love sophomore Micah Awe and think Blake Dees can provide solid play in the rotation. Barring injury or Jenkins just wowing somebody, he could redshirt.
If that’s what happens, coaches aren’t afraid of him getting homesick or slacking off.
“He’s another kid that wants to be a Red Raider,” co-defensive coordinator Mike Smith said recently. “Growing up, he always had Tech stuff all over his wall. Every day you see him walking around smiling ear to ear. He loves Texas Tech. He loves being here. We want good kids, and he fits that mold. He’ll be a big-time player for us in the future.”
Jenkins, listed at 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds when he signed out of Ennis, appeals to Tech coaches because of his growth potential and athletic ability. Smith said he won’t be surprised if Jenkins winds up growing into the “bandit” defensive end-outside linebacker position, where the Red Raiders first had 6-4, 255-pound Branden Jackson (since moved to end) and 6-3, 230-pound Pete Robertson.
They don’t seem worried about Jenkins’ losing much as he gains weight.
“Malik Jenkins is very athletic,” defensive coordinator Matt Wallerstedt said. “Guys have said they’ve seen him do 360 dunks and all kinds of stuff on the basketball court. He’s a lengthy kid with a great frame.”
Jenkins was first-team all-District 15-4A last year at Ennis, when he was in on 116 tackles. Tech pulled him away from a commitment to Washington State.
As mentioned above, Tech coaches have penciled in Jenkins at middle linebacker, a spot where range will be important. In Tech’s 3-4 scheme, the middle linebacker will be deployed to the wide or “field” side of the alignment.