While at the NFL Scouting Combine, players are placed under the microscope – both physically and mentally – and in interviews, team officials grill athletes on any and every off-field issue.
Cornerback Janoris Jenkins came to the Combine well aware that he would have to answer a host of character-related questions. James has been arrested three times – twice on drug charges and once for involvement in a fight — since 2009, got dismissed from Florida’s program last April and had to transfer to Division II North Alabama to play his final season of college football.
Jenkins — who likely would have been a top 10 prospect, but instead might not get selected until late in the first round or early in the second round — said he knew exactly how to handle the scrutiny, however.
“I was honest, straightforward, told ’em I did it,” said Jenkins, who has four children. “I admitted to everything. I take full responsibility, and I learned from it.”
Asked what lessons he learned from his incidents, the 5-foot-9, 191-pound Jenkins said, “It made me a stronger person, taught me how to fight through reality; that I’ve got to separate myself from certain guys, certain people. To be successful at the next level I can’t do the things I used to do.”
Of marijuana use, Jenkins says, “I’m done with it forever, man. I can’t do it. It’s something I can’t let myself do again.”
Jenkins’s surroundings changed drastically last summer. Two months after his dismissal from Florida, he received a scholarship offer from North Alabama.
“It made me appreciate a lot,” Jenkins said. “Coming from Florida, getting three or four pairs of cleats a week, gloves, going to North Alabama and getting one pair of cleats. Playing in front of 3,500 people. Being in the Swamp and playing in front of 95,000 is a big difference. Learning experience. … We didn’t really play on Saturdays. My Saturdays I watched Florida, watched some of my old teammates play. It struck me, it hit me as a kid. I was just like, ‘Man, I’m supposed to be there with those guys.’”
Jenkins now hopes to live up to his potential and develop into an elite cornerback in the NFL. After failing to draw regular challenges on the field this past season – most teams threw away from him the majority of their games – he looks forward to the assignments of covering talented receivers each week, even if they may hold significant height advantages over him.
“I’m …looking forward to moving on and being successful from here on out,” Jenkins said. “There’s some great guys in the NFL, it’s going to be a great challenge week in and week out. I’m going to come in and work, put in some good work, watch film and just compete.”