MORGANTOWN - The journey to West Virginia University was an easy one. But, the five-year stay for Parkersburg-native Josh Jenkins had its share of ups and downs.
"It's bitter sweet," said Jenkins. "I'm excited that I made it to college and that I'm going to graduate. But, I'm ready for the next stage of my life."
Jenkins, one of the most highly recruited athletes to wear the red and white at PHS, will be one of 21 seniors who will take to the artificial surface at Milan Puskar Stadium to take on Kansas at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday.
"Yea, it will be emotional," continued Jenkins, who is majoring in multi-disciplinary studies. "I'd prefer that it happened after the game. The most important thing for us (the seniors) is to get the 'W'."
Already bowl-eligible thanks to a 31-24 victory over Iowa State last Friday, WVU can improve its bowl stock with a seventh win over a Jayhawks team that is on the verge of going winless in the Big 12 for the second season in a row.
"As players, we can't get caught up in what the other team's record is. Our job is to go out there and do the things that we have to do to get the win."
After being named the Hunt Award winner - given each year to the most outstanding lineman in the Mountain State - for the second consecutive year, Jenkins became the focus of one of the hottest recruiting battles in the nation.
Head coaches from all over the country came to the PHS campus to visit the Big Red senior. One of those was then-University of Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis.
Weis will be on the sidelines Saturday, but leading a KU program that has had a week off following a 51-24 loss to Iowa State.
"Yeah, I remember him (Weis)," said the Mountaineers' left guard. "It's not any different than it has been before. I've played against a lot of coaches, and teams, that recruited me."
Senior Day actually came a year late for Jenkins as a knee injury suffered during the annual Blue-Gold scrimmage in 2011 cost him last season. But, instead of letting the injury end his career, the 300-pounder worked hard during the offseason to work his way back into shape and prepare for WVU's upcoming inaugural season in the Big 12.
"I wasn't going to let it (the injury) define my career," said Jenkins. "I made up my mind early to get myself back onto the field. That first game back was huge and getting to play in places like Texas and in the Big 12 is something that I'm glad I got a chance to do."
Jenkins will join offensive linemen Joe Madsen and Jeff Braun in making their final home starts for the old gold and blue. Joining them in pregame ceremonies will be Tavon Austin (WR), Josh Francis (LB), Pat Miller (CB), Geno Smith (QB), Shawne Alston (RB), Cecil Level (S), Terrence Garvin (LB), Donovan Miles (RB), Ryan Clarke (RB), Nick Cadwell (S), Tyler Betancourt (K/P), Corey Smith (K/P), Taige Redman (LB), John Bassler (OL), Ryan Nehlen (WR), J.D. Woods (WR), J.B. Lageman (DL) and Jorge Wright (DL).
"I think the most important message we want to leave behind for the younger players is that they need to enjoy their time here. Just take it all in. The things you get to do as a football player. All of the hard work that comes together.
"A lot of these guys are my brothers."
Those 'brothers' will look to end the regular season with a two-game winning streak and look to continue the Mountaineers' recent success in the bowls.