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Better Know a Freshman: Jaray Jenkins

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Explosive athlete may be a dynamic chess piece.

Student Sports Flickr

Yesterday, we talked about LSU signing four total WRs in 2018 and how while one pair became the gems of the class, the other two faded into relative obscurity. While Kenan Jones flashes projectable tools of a classic outside WR, Jaray Jenkins flashes a different skill set, which gives LSU some versatility for the future.

The Story

Typically, I like to relay on 247’s timeline feature to write this section and I don’t think I’ve ever seen one as short as Jaray Jenkins:

Six total entries. Not a single mention of another school. Only four even related to LSU: commitment, visit, signing, enrolling.

The other significant event here occurred in early September, when Jenkins broke his leg. This virtually ended his recruitment. LSU stuck by his side. He quietly visited in December and signed five days later.

Many expected he may be a numbers casualty in the end, but the staff remained loyal to Jenkins. I think that illustrates a vote of confidence for his abilities.

The Numbers

110 - 101 = Franchise Player. One of the best players to come along in years, if not decades. Odds of having a player in this category every year is slim. This prospect has “can’t miss” talent.

100 - 98 = Five-star prospect. One of the top 30 players in the nation. This player has excellent pro-potential and should emerge as one of the best in the country before the end of his career. There will be 32 prospects ranked in this range in every football class to mirror the first round of the NFL Draft.

97 - 90 = Four-star prospect. One of the top 300 players in the nation. This prospect will be an impact-player for his college team. He is an All-American candidate who is projected to play professionally.

89 - 80 = Three-star prospect. One of the top 10% players in the nation. This player will develop into a reliable starter for his college team and is among the best players in his region of the country. Many three-stars have significant pro potential.

79 - below = Two-star prospect. This player makes up the bulk of Division I rosters. He may have little pro-potential, but is likely to become a role player for his respective school.

247 Composite Rating: ***
247 Composite Ranking: .8828

He’s on the cusp of 4-star status. I think Jenkins has a really strong case for his ranking be an injury casualty. I’m not sure he cares, but the fact that he held 4-star status until he broke his leg pretty much tells the story. What would have happened had he not broken his leg? I’m not sure. He caught around 40 balls as a sophomore and a junior. He caught double-digit touchdowns as well. Though he never topped 1,000 receiving yards. Productive albeit numbers that don’t blow one away.

He’s also a good-sized prospect. Listed at 6-foot-2, 190 pounds on the LSU roster. Even if those are exaggerated, he’s probably in the 6-foot-0 or above range and nearing 200 pounds. He ran a 4.13 short shuttle, which means he’s pretty damned explosive, assuming he returns to full form. Reportedly, his break was clean so no risk of long-term issues there.

Injury means no All-State and no All-American game for Jenkins. There’s seemingly very little know about him all around.

The Film

The first clip on the reel is exactly what I expect to see from Jenkins: return capability. I’m not saying the staff is looking at him as exclusively a return specialist, but I do think they believe it limits his floor. Even if Jenkins can never crack the depth chart as a WR, there’s a real shot he can play in the return game, even as early as next year.

While Kenan Jones looks like your vintage big, outside target, Jenkins is the move piece. He can excel in space and work the middle of the field. I think Jenkins is the type of player you try to get involved in the screen game and see what he can do when he gets the ball in his hands.

He’s not refined as a WR at this point. I think his physical tools could allow him to develop into a fine route runner, but at this point, he’s more of an athlete than a receiver. He’ll need to work out his catch mechanics. He lets the ball get into his body rather than extending and plucking. His coach raved about his catching ability while noting he’d need to work on his route running. That’s definitely something to monitor.

The Future

Jenkins seems like a solid fringe prospect. In some ways he resembles Odell Beckham Jr., who I was bullish on and still managed to totally undervalue. I don’t think Jenkins has that upside, but we also lose a year of his development to the unknown. I think there’s a very real “we don’t yet know what we have in Jenkins” factor here. That could be mean something or it could mean nothing.

Jenkins could well become a big-play threat as a returner and as a receiver. He could be the second coming of Odell Beckham Jr. Or... he could be Chris Tolliver. Either outcome feels plausible. It’s exceptionally hard to make any type of evaluation on a prospect with so many unknowns. But I do think Jenkins fits the Orgeron mold of taking on gifted athletes they hope to mold into football players. Let’s see if it pays off.

High End: Starter. Special teams monster.
Low End: Transfer or non-contributor.
Realistic: I think he finds a home as a special teams returner and maybe factors as a receiving target late into his career.