IMPACT ANALYSIS: Vols earn commit from Jayson Jenkins ahead of Signing Day
With Signing Day just around the corner, Tennessee added to its 2022 class by picking up the commitment of defensive lineman Jayson Jenkins. The three-star emerged as a priority target for the Volunteers and Rodney Garner following the Early Signing Period with Tennessee officially offering the Lawrenceville, N.J. native earlier this month.
The versatile defensive lineman is tabbed as the 17th-rated prospect out of the state of New Jersey and owns a Rivals Rating of 5.6. A three-star, Jenkins’ stock picked up some steam over the past month as programs – like Tennessee – continued wrapping up the 2022 cycle trying to solidify their top-needs.
The 6-foot-6, 260-pound standout from Notre Dame High School chose the Volunteers over the likes of fellow Southeastern Conference foes, Florida and Missouri, among others.
Tennessee’s newest commit is currently on campus for his official visit and will put pen to paper, becoming a Volunteer, on Wednesday’s Signing Day. He’ll join the class of 20 signees and link up with fellow defensive linemen Tyre West and Jordan Phillips in the group.
Here’s a detailed look at what a Jayson Jenkins commitment means for Tennessee.
“He’s a great young man who is a hard worker. The sky is the limit for him with his talent and his football future. He’s a great kid. He’s got an explosive first-step. He uses his hands really well and has a relentless pursuit. Jayson is a very instinctive player and a real competitor.
I think he will fit in great [with Tennessee]. He is a relentlessly hard worker who is really committed to football. He’s got that switch that goes on that you need in a defensive lineman. We have played him inside and outside – really, all over the field. He’s got a mean-streak and I think he’s going to do great.”
-- Sean Clancy, Notre Dame HS Head Coach
HOW JENKINS FITS IN WITH THE VOLS
Jenkins will be a work in progress at the next level, but he does have size on his side. With a solid base, the defensive lineman has room to add some good weight and that will be critical to survive in SEC play. Expect the 2022 signee to arrive in summer and start benefitting immediately from Tennessee’s strength & conditioning program as overall strength needs to be improved.
Tennessee sees a lot of potential and an extremely high ceiling for Jenkins. He displays great use of his hands when combating offensive linemen. Whether it’s a dip-and-rip, swat-and-rip or simple hand-placement under the chest plate, Jenkins’ hands are his best attribute. Couple that with a dynamic spin move used following a firm plant-foot, the three-star was consistently in the backfield harassing opposing quarterbacks.
The prospect also possesses a high motor as his tape shows him chasing down ball-carriers from the backside, often. He’s athletic and versatile. As time goes on and his body continues to transform, Rodney Garner will have some options on where to play Jenkins – who repped at every technique on the defensive line at the high school level.
WHAT DOES A JAYSON JENKINS COMMITMENT MEAN FOR TENNESSSEE?
It was obvious Tennessee still needed help on the defensive line following the December signing period. Adding Phillips and West was important, but the Vols said goodbye to three players in Matthew Butler, Ja’Quain Blakely and Caleb Tremblay who were in the regular rotation last season.
The commitment also means more depth is added to a position that still needs to get better.
Garner’s impact was a major one in year one of the Josh Heupel era and the play of that unit improved greatly. But the veteran position coach would be the first to tell you that it’s no where close to where it needs to be. A consistent pass-rush is vital in SEC play, regardless of if it comes from the interior or edge. Adding Jenkins to the fold gives the Vols a big-bodied option it can work with and hopeful rely on down the line.
With Jenkins, West and Phillips all in the fold as defensive linemen in the class, Tennessee would still like to add to this group by way of the transfer portal. The Vols are also holding out hope for 2022 prospect Ahmad Moten to join the class, but the leader in the clubhouse – Miami – gets the last word there this weekend.