Ken Jenkins knows there isn't much room in the National Football League for a 5-foot-9, 180-pound running back.
But major colleges recruiters didn't think there was any room for a 5-9, 180-pound running back trying to make a comeback after major knee surgery as a prep senior at Landon School.
Jenkins has proved them wrong. He now leads all divisions in all-purpose running for Division 1-AA Bucknell University (6-4) and dreams of a career in professional football.
Most NFL clubs haven't looked at Jenkins yet because he is only a junior. But the scouts who have like what they saw.
Gil Brandt, vice president of player personnel for the Dallas Cowboys and one of the most respected judges of football talent, hasn't seen Jenkins in person, but he has high praise for the Wheaton, Md., resident.
"Anyone that is as productive as Jenkins will get the opportunity to play pro ball in the NFL," Brandt said. "He's got great speed and talent. pWe had a scout go through there and time him and check his speed and weight and we are impressed, although we don't normally pay much attention to juniors. aWe start the serious paper work in the spring of their junior year."
George Karras, head scout of the northeast for United Scouting, a combine that represents 15 NFL teams, including the Redskins, has watched and talked to Jenkins.
"I'm very impressed with him," Karras said. "He jumps right out at you when you watch him on film because he is so dominating. There is no question about his ability. If he continues to be as productive as he had been he will get a shot in the pros.
"He has proven to me on film that he is worthy of pro consideration."
To get this far, Jenkins has overcome some formidable obstacles.
In his sixth game as a senior at Landon, Jenkins' season came to an abrupt end when he ripped cartilage in a knee. It looked as if his football career had ended. The injury and his size -- 5-7, 150 pounds then -- kept the major college recruiters away.
But Bucknell, in tiny Lewisburg, Pa., decided to give him a chance.
After carrying only once as a freshman, for a seven-yard loss, Jenkins entered the season opener last year after the starter suffered cracked ribs. He responded with 123 yards on 13 carries, 45 yards on one catch, and two touchdowns. Jenkins has started every Bison game since, rolling up 2,032 yards rushing and 23 touchdowns.
Saturday, in Bucknell's 30-17 upset of Boston University, Jenkins broke the Division 1-AA all-purpose yardage record. He gained 1,884 total yards this season, breaking Frank Hawkins record set last year by 78 yards.
With 1,270 yards rushing this season, Jenkins snapped former Los Angeles Ram and Philadelphia Eagle Brad Myers' school mark of 1,069, set in 1951. Jenkins with 16 touchdowns, also broke Myers' season record of 14, posted in 1951. The junior running back carried the ball 213 times this season, another school record.
Against West Chester State, in the Bison's 31-21 victory, Jenkins amassed a Bucknell record 341 total yards: 146 rushing, 108 on three touchdown catches, and 87 on kick returns. His three scoring catches was a single-game record and he was the first Bison to gain over 100 yards both on the ground and in the air.
"If I had the chance to play pro ball, I would definitely take it without a doubt," Jenkins said. "I feel confident I could do well as a professional. The major colleges didn't go after me and I'm doing pretty good. I think I can do good as a pro. The scouts say I know how to read blocks and defenses. It's because I study. I'm a student of this game."
Jenkins graduated from Landon in 1978 after three standout seasons. He was on his way to an excellent season, with 708 yards on just 85 carries, before the injury cut him short.
"When Ken played wingback for us he showed some phenomenal moves," said Lowell Davis, Landon coach since 1971. "I compare him to Lydell Mitchell (former Colt and San Diego Charger running back).Beautiful moves, great hands, can turn on the speed at any time, a tremendous stiff arm, all just like Mitchell.
"He is so multitalented. As a senior he was the hardest-hitting defensive back we had and one heck of a good runner, with great breakaway ability. Being so talented in so many areas has helped him and it should help him get a shot at the pros."
Bucknell, with only 3,100 students, doesn't get the publicity of a Penn State or an Oklahoma, but the scouts don't think this will hurt him.
"But he has to be dominant at Bucknell, whereas he only has to do well in a big school such as Pitt and Penn State, to be noticed," Karras said. "He would get more attention at a large school if he was as productive as he is at Bucknell. If he continues to do as well as he has last year and this year, he will get a shot in the pros."
And, as Davis said, "it is almost impossible to bury talent. And Ken has talent. When there is a good player people will notice him no matter where he plays. When you're good, you're good. Anb Ken is good."
Jenkins hopes Davis and Karras are correct. He wants a chance to live what is now only a dream.