The Buckeye Battle Cry will be counting down the Top 25 players of the past decade all spring/summer. Every Monday and Thursday, Jim will be announcing a new player. Our #1 player will be presented on Monday, August 30th. Three days later, the 2010 season officially begins. To view the previous entries in our Top 25, click here.
Malcolm Jenkins was everything you could hope for in a corner back and then some. He was a lock down defender in man coverage that could (and did) take away half of the field for the opponents passing game. He was also an extremely physical defender who was not afraid to come up and hit someone in run defense. Against the run or pass, as an offense you did not want to attack Jenkins’ side of the field.
By Jenkins’ senior season, he was so proficient at locking down half of the field that at times it seemed like he would deliberately let his man get by him, tempting the QB to throw his way, only to make up the distance at the last second to disrupt or intercept the pass. The coaches must have noticed this as well, and during his senior campaign Jenkins was utilized at safety at times, further tempting QBs to throw in his direction.
Jenkins was one of the most visible members of Ohio State’s defense during his three years as a starter, and he was a vocal leader in practice and in games. Like fellow defensive stand out James Laurinaitis, he furthered his legacy by choosing to stay for his senior campaign in 2008 despite being projected to go early in the draft after his junior year.
Like all players that take this route, Jenkins earned a special place in the memories and hearts of fans for returning. Unfortunately, the 2008 season, which had so much promise and National Title hopes, was largely a disappointing one. As a visible leader on the team from 2006 through 2008, bowl let downs will also always be a part of his legacy .
Outside of the bowl let downs, the teams and defenses that Jenkins led were excellent, compiling a record of 23-6 over three seasons. On top of the outstanding overall record, Jenkins continued the legacy of NFL caliber defensive backs at Ohio State.
In a crowded field of great DBs, Jenkins cemented his name in any discussion about who was the greatest, particularly because he returned for his senior campaign.
As an aside to anybody who follows recruiting out there, Jenkins is the perfect example of why you never question camp offers. As a little known 3 star recruit from New Jersey who earned an offer after camping at Ohio State, few people predicted Jenkins would make such a huge impact as a sophomore on the newly rebuilt 2006 defense.
Three years of domination later, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Jenkins was a two time First Team All-American in 2007 and 2008. He also won the Jim Thorpe Award in 2008, given to the best defensive back in college football each season. Despite never putting up record book stats (mostly because teams avoided throwing to his side of the field), Jenkins clearly made a huge impact on opponents game plans and the national media recognized this.
Jenkins was drafted 14th overall by the New Orleans Saints in the 2009 NFL draft. He recorded 55 tackles, 1 interception and two forced fumbles in 14 games (6 starts) for the Super Bowl Champs. He looks to continue to be a member of the defensive back rotation for the Saints in 2010.
For locking down his side of the field in run and pass defense for three straight years, for back to back First Team All-American seasons, for winning the Thorpe Award as the best defensive back in college football, and for continuing Ohio State’s legacy of producing first round defensive backs, Malcolm Jenkins is #7 in our countdown of the top 25 Buckeyes of the last decade.