PARKERSBURG —Credit West Virginia University head football coach Bill Stewart, recruiting coordinator John ‘Doc’ Holliday and offensive line coach Dave Johnson for persuading Parkersburg High School all-American Josh Jenkins to sign with the Mountaineers.
Jenkins was the first high-profile recruit to commit to becoming part of WVU’s 2008 recruiting class and even was being used by former coach Rich Rodriguez to help in the recruiting of other athletes.
But the departure of Rodriguez in early December on top of the previous exit of offensive line coach Rick Trickett caused Jenkins to renege on his commitment to WVU and take recruiting visits to Florida and Florida State, the latter where Trickett now coaches the offensive line.
Jenkins was so distraught over Rodriguez’s departure he left the Parkersburg High School basketball program after playing in the season opener in order to concentrate on recruiting, which had been a slam-dunk for WVU until the turmoil that occurred in December.
Once Bill Stewart was hired as the Mountaineers’ head coach after leading WVU to a stunning victory over Oklahoma, he immediately made Jenkins his top recruiting priority. If Stewart was going to salvage WVU’s recruiting class, it was imperative he land the top in-state recruit.
WVU’s chances of doing that significantly were bolstered when Stewart hired Holliday as WVU’s recruiting coordinator. Holliday had recruited Jenkins for Florida and even though Florida never really hit the radar screen, Jenkins and the PHS football staff were highly impressed with the way Holliday conducted himself. Holliday spent a great deal of time in Parkersburg, bringing Johnson on his final visit. Shortly after that visit, Jenkins committed to becoming a Mountaineer.
Although Jenkins considered and visited other schools, he always wanted to be a Mountaineer. PHS assistant Mark McCullough, who guided Jenkins through the lengthy and maddening recruiting process, never wavered when asked where he thought Jenkins would end up. The answer always was “Josh wants to be a Mountaineer.’’
Jenkins told the PHS coaching staff that even during the days when he didn’t know who would be WVU’s head coach. Naturally, that’s when other schools saw an opening and stepped up their recruiting of Jenkins.
But once Stewart, Holliday and Johnson got involved, Jenkins returned to his original choice, with which he seems quite comfortable.
During last Thursday’s Steak and Burger Dinner fundraiser for the Boys and Girls Club of Parkersburg, Jenkins seemed like he belonged with the players who represented WVU at the event.
One of those players, fellow offensive lineman John Walko, told an inquirer, “He’s coming to West Virginia. He’s one of us.’’
News of Jenkins’ signing ends what has been a suspenseful time for those who fervently follow West Virginia football. They would call or e-mail the newspaper office on a daily basis with the number of inquiries increasing as signing day drew nearer.
Plus, there seemed to be a Josh Jenkins mania on Interent sites devoted to football recruiting, where Jenkins always seemed to be a a major topic of discussion, especially among West Virginia and Ohio State fans.
When Jenkins signs with WVU this morning, Mountaineer fans will breathe a sigh of relief. West Virginia has landed the biggest catch the state had to offer.