I had the opportunity the other day to interview Junior DE Kyle Jenkins who enrolled in the Spring to join the Northern Illinois Huskies from Harper College. The turnaround time with this was absolutely phenomenal and I'd like to thank Kyle for his time to answer all of my questions.
Red and Black Attack: First of all, what is your reaction to the closing of Driscoll Catholic High School? What were some of your favorite memories as a Highlander?
Kyle Jenkins: I was really surprised when i heard that Driscoll was going to be closing. My brother goes there and he texted me that they were going to be closing. It isn't for sure yet though because a lot of the alumni are trying to raise enough money to possibly keep it open.
My favorite memories at Driscoll would obviously have to be the state title run. All four years of my high school career I was a state champion. So I would have to say that would be my greatest memory.
RABA: What led you to attend Harper College and what was the major difference in progressing from 7 sacks your freshman year to nearly 20 just this past season?
KJ: I went to Harper because I really wasn't recruited real hard coming out of high school. I had one D2 offer and NIU and Illinois wanted me to walk-on. I also tore my ACL partially during the spring of my senior year. So the best place for me to go was Harper.
I feel that I jumped from 7 sacks to about 20 was because of the experience after one year at the JUCO level. I also think it was because we went from a 3-4 to a 4-3 defense my sophomore year. That really helped a lot.
RABA: The highlight of the season last year must have been Harper's huge comeback victory in the Valley of the Sun Bowl winning 39-38 over Phoenix College. Explain what was going through the mind of you and your team after the third quarter when you were down 38-6?
KJ: I honestly thought we had lost the game at that point. I was really disappointed, but our QB Garrett Barnas made some unbelievable plays in the 4th quarter and everyone just pretty much fed off of his plays and everyone started to believe we could come back.
RABA: Garrett Barnas was one of the heroes of that game getting it done in the air and on the ground. It has been reported that he is heading to NIU to play defensive back. What will he bring to the table for the Huskies this fall?
KJ: Yea he said the coaches here told him that he might play safety or at slot receiver. He might even have a shot at QB, but he will bring a lot of athleticism to the team. He runs a 4.45 and he really has great passion for football. He just has incredible instincts.
RABA: Coach Kill started out the spring describing the competition at defensive line as a "war zone". How are you responding so far to the competition, especially now that you guys are running around in pads?
KJ: I have been responding pretty well to the competition. I've just been trying to learn the defense as best as I can. I am just trying to learn from the guys who have been here and just try to improve my technique and hopefully I will see some significant playing time.
RABA: What kind of adjustments have you had to make and what do you have to improve on in the next few weeks? What has Coach Phelps been stressing the most on in practice?
KJ: I feel I just need to get better at my technique and the speed at this level. Coach Phelps has just been telling me all I have to do focus on improving a few of the things that I am doing wrong and if I do that I should be in pretty good shape.
RABA: Fellow DC alum LB John Tranchitella has played a ton of football for us these past few years. How is it playing with him on the defensive side of the ball again and has he given you any pointers?
KJ: It is really fun to play on the same team as Tranch again. It's a little weird though because I'm used to seeing him play as a DB. He has been helping by just telling me what to expect from the coaches and on the field.
RABA: Have you been working solely on the edge or are there any plans for you to play in the middle of the DL in the near future?
KJ: I've been playing at DE all spring so far. I haven't heard anything yet about moving to DT.
RABA: Our favorite highlight film of yours on Youtube is the one with Motorhead's "Play the Game" playing in the background. Do you have any pre-game rituals to get you pumped up for kickoff?
KJ: I really don't have many pregame rituals. I do wish I could go back to high school where our team would listen to the Braveheart and Any Given Sunday speeches before we took the field. That was the one thing that would help me get pumped up before games.
RABA: Thanks for your time and good luck wth the rest of spring ball!