Running back Jenkins spurns Washington State, returns to Arizona
Larry Hogan / Arizona Daily Wildcat
Daniel Jenkins returns a kick against SCSU.
Last season, running back Daniel Jenkins saw limited playing time for Arizona as consensus All-American Ka’Deem Carry took the bulk of the workload.
Jenkins’ time spent with Washington State was even less, as the fifth-year senior decided not to transfer, instead returning to the Wildcats before even participating in a practice in Pullman, Wash.
Jenkins declared his intentions to transfer to the Cougars in January in order to finish off his playing career as a potential starter, rather than a reserve at the UA. But early this month, family issues caused Jenkins to come back to Tucson and continue playing for Arizona.
“I didn’t have intentions of it ending up this way but you know, everything happens for a reason and this is God’s master plan for my life, it looks like,” Jenkins said. “I’m happy to be finishing up my career here as a Wildcat.”
“I’ve been here for the last four years of my life, this is home for me now and [my teammates] are my family. I’m going to look forward to the season.”
Jenkins entered the 2012 season as a split starter with Carey, at least according to head coach Rich Rodriguez and co-offensive coordinator Calvin Magee. Instead, Carey separated himself as the lone starter during a record-breaking campaign, forcing Jenkins into a reduced role on offense.
The 5-foot-9 running back from Moreno Valley, Calif., had just 67 attempts on the season for 293 yards and two touchdowns. He was also the primary kick returner, averaging 20.6 yards in his 16 returns.
But, for a player who came to Arizona as a four-star running back and one of the top players in the Wildcats 2009 recruiting class, according to Rivals.com, Jenkins wanted to have a bigger place in the offense.
Since it was his final year of eligibility, and he could transfer without redshirting because he graduated in December, Jenkins said it was the best opportunity for his career to transfer to WSU.
Yet, after training just over a month in Pullman, family issues caused Jenkins to change his mind and come back to the UA.
“It was really just a combination of events,” Jenkins said. “My family had some things going on with them and I had the opportunity to come back, finish my career out here at Arizona and I decided to come back.”
Since he never enrolled at Washington State, or even took part in Spring Camp or organized practices, the senior can return to Arizona without skipping a beat. Of course, the situation at running back is still the same with Carey sitting at the top of the depth chart.
Jenkins, though, is ready to compete.
“I have no intentions to be a backup running back,” Jenkins said. “I will compete as hard as I can and I have every intention to be a starting running back.”
“I’m happy to compete, I’m a competitor and that’s who I am as a person. I think anybody who knows me, knows that. I’m looking forward to the challenge and doing some big things within the offense and playing a major role.”
Barring injuries or more legal trouble for Carey, Jenkins should still remain the No. 2 back. Yet, with a new face at quarterback, Arizona might be forced to depend even more on the ground game, which could give Jenkins some additional touches.
While the situation became messy, with Jenkins flip-flopping on his decision to go to Washington State, he said he stayed in contact with his teammates and they’re happy to have him back.
Now Jenkins will try and move on like the incident never happened and continue to fight for the starting role while he works on earning his master’s in educational psychology.
“I just look at myself and try and stay in my own lane,” Jenkins said, “and do what I’m told to do … I’m looking forward to it and I know that [Carey’s] talent and my talent will, in the end, result in great things happening for the program. It will all work together for the team, not individual.”