As you surveyed the landscape at the Columbus, Ohio, edition of the Nike Football Training Camp, one head seemed to stand out above the rest.
Sterling Jenkins is a standout tackle from Pittsburgh Baldwin High School
That head belonged to Pittsburgh Baldwin 2015 offensive tackle prospect Sterling Jenkins.
The 6-8, 305-pound Jenkins played for Baldwin as a sophomore. He is already regarded as a national top-100 prospect for 2015, ranking 86th overall nationally, No. 7 among offensive tackles and as the top prospect in Pennsylvania according to 247Sports.com.
He already has a number of top offers as well to back up that ranking, including Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Virginia, Virginia Tech and West Virginia.
Speaking after his participation in Sunday’s camp, Jenkins said he wished he could have done better.
“This was one of my first few camps, so I’m not really pleased with how I did,” he said. “It’s more like I was feeling out the water at this camp. I wasn’t really pleased with how I did in the one-on-one drills at all. It’s definitely a learning experience.
“I was happy with the coaching staff and what I was able to take from them. They were so supportive. I also made some new friends out here and it was great to meet those guys.”
Jenkins kept an upbeat attitude about what he gained by attending the camp and competing against many of the region’s top rising seniors and juniors.
“No matter if I succeed or fail, I think there is always something I can take from it,” he said. “To see (Virginia defensive end) Da’Shawn Hand and he’s the No. 1 prospect (for 2014), it was great to see what I’m up against, what I have to work toward and what I have to set as my goals. Being in the Class of 2015, I still have time to work on some things.”
Jenkins was one of the top performers at the OSU Nike Camp
Jenkins ticked off a list of some of his top offers.
“I have 11 offers as of now,” he said. “Some of the ones I have include Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan, Pittsburgh, Arizona, Temple, Virginia Tech, Vanderbilt and West Virginia.”
West Virginia was the first school to offer, followed by Virginia and Michigan.
“Michigan was one of my first big offers,” Jenkins said. “It was definitely cool because I have talked to (UM assistant coach Darrell) Funk before. He told me how he was interested in me. He came in last year when I was a freshman.”
Jenkins said he enjoyed the chance to visit the Ohio State campus for the camp. The Buckeyes had offered him earlier in May.
“I talked to (offensive line coach) Ed Warriner,” Jenkins said. “He was a cool guy. He came up to the school and he talked to me. He gave me an offer. I know they have good academics and a good football program.”
Jenkins confirmed he will attend advanced camp sessions at Ohio State and Michigan during the month of June.
He also has family ties to Penn State and is interested in checking out the PSU campus. Hometown school Pittsburgh is also in consideration, he said.
“My uncle played for Penn State back in the 1980s and his two sons played there as well,” he said. “It would definitely be something I would consider to stay instate. But the more research I am doing and independence I would have traveling, I am considering going out-of-state.
“But I do like how they are close to home. That would please my family, I know that. I want to take a visit to Penn State sometime this fall and check it out. ”
Jenkins, who said he wants to become an English professor one day, talked about the recruiting process in general.
“Distance really isn’t a factor for me,” he said. “I don’t have a problem with traveling. I want to get out and see what is out there. It really is a blessing that I get to choose the school that I will go to. I’m not getting cocky or taking anything for granted. I want to stay as humble as possible and work as hard as I can.”
Jenkins’ Baldwin team was just 3-6 last year. The Highlanders have not been known in recent times, although Baldwin sent current Cleveland Browns lineman Jason Pinkston and Justin Hargrove to Pittsburgh in 2007. Running back Dorian Brown signed with Ohio U. out of Baldwin this past February.
“I would say with our new head coach (Jim Wehner), it’s definitely changing everything,” Jenkins said. “Having those players who were leaders come through there, it’s definitely created some expectations for us instead of accepting mediocrity like before.”
Jenkins grew as tall as 6-5 by the time he was in the eighth grade. He played basketball as well for a few years before deciding to work strictly on football.
“I was never really good at basketball and as colleges started to look at me I decided to concentrate on football only,” Jenkins said.
The hard work is paying off. He started last season as a sophomore at right tackle for Baldwin.
"I feel like I am good at pass blocking and being able to block off the defender," he said. "I’m working hard on my footwork and trying to bend my knees and stay low."
Bob Lichtenfels, a 247Sports.com recruiting analyst, has covered preps in the Pittsburgh area for over a decade. He shared some thoughts on Baldwin’s progression.
“He is 6-8 and close to 300 pounds,” Lichtenfels said. “He has done pretty well playing against high level competition in the WPIAL. He is young, though. He has two years of high school football still to play.
“Some colleges have come in with offers based on his size and what he could be. He could end up becoming a dominant football player. But he could end up not getting better than he is now. But for him to be a 10th grader and be as good as he is, he should be exciting to watch for the next two years.”
Lichtenfels added, “It is always intriguing to see a kid that size who can move like he does.”
Click here for video highlights of Jenkins in action.
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