October 5, 2001
Danny Jenkins' kicking efforts produce wonders for CatawbaBy Ronnie Gallagher, The Salisbury Post
All Catawba College football coach David Bennett wanted to talk about Tuesday during his weekly press conference at Western Steer was Danny Jenkins’ feet.
The former Kannapolis star has used those extremities to help Catawba to 27 wins in its last 30 football games.
Actually, Danny Jenkins uses one foot. He is the Indians’ punter.
Bennett raves about the talents of that foot when Jenkins, a 6-foot-5, 190-pound junior, steps forward to boom a punt.
“You hand him a football and let him punt it — the boy can boom it!” Bennett said.
He does not, however, rave about the feet that used to run pass patterns for the Wonders during a career in which he helped Bruce Hardin win a 3A state championship.
“Danny’s stopped kidding me now but he wanted to always play receiver,” Bennett continued. “I watched him play receiver. He’s got great hands.
“But I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I can outrun Danny Jenkins. And I’m a 40-year old man who weighs about 225 pounds.”
A.L. Brown officials made a video of the Wonders’ 1997 state championship season when Nick Maddox ran wild. But there was a junior receiver named Jenkins on that tape too.
And maybe Bennett should take a look at it.
In the quarterfinals against arch-rival Concord, there is a sequence where he runs to the middle of the field, stops and latches on to a 17-yard reception from William Craft. On the next play, he does the same thing, grabbing a halfback pass at the Concord 35.
Jenkins turns to run and is met by Concord’s No. 1 — his current Catawba teammate Jamel Jackson. He leaves him in the dust and races to the 20. It sets up the only touchdown in a 9-0 Brown win.
Jenkins says Jackson didn’t gloat much this season when Concord beat A.L. Brown. Because Jenkins knows the film of that catch is out there.
“He didn’t really say much to me since we’re not playing against each other,” Jenkins smiled. “He knows when we were in high school, (AL. Brown) had our wins.”
The film then shows the Wonders racing onto the field for the Western N.C. finals against Kings Mountain. Again, it shows Jenkins making two catches over the middle.
Again, he proves he has the hands.
“Oh, he’s a great athlete,” Bennett admits. “But I have to get his rear end on the golf course because he’s telling me he can beat me. I’ve got to go humble him.”
Bennett has humbled Jenkins on the football field a few times. Whenever Jenkins shanks a punt.
But Bennett says he does it because he knows what Jenkins’ right foot can do.
“We’d like to hypnotize Danny when he’s punting and act like there’s no rush,”he said. “If he punted like he does in practice, NFL scouts would be looking at him.”
There was no pressure Saturday in a 31-3 win over South Atlantic Conference foe Newberry. On three punts, his net average was 38 yards.
“Danny’s a weapon,” Bennett said. “He takes pride in getting the ball inside the 20. He could kick it out of the end zone every time but that’s not what he’s about. He puts the team ahead of his stats.”
This past week, Jenkins tried a new technique that he said helped.
“I felt real calm,” he said.
When Jenkins is calm, the sky’s the limit. Against Mars Hill last season, he booted a 74-yard punt (“I wish they had added a yard so I could’ve tied the school record,” he said).
“In practice, there’s no telling how far I can kick it. I’ve had some that have rolled forever.”
He kicks 50-60 balls during Monday’s practice and 40 on Tuesdays. Wednesday is field-goal day, and that’s when Jenkins finally gets to use his hands. He’s the holder for kicker Matt Gross.
And that’s not as easy as it seems.
“You have to catch the ball and make sure you hit the right spot,” he explained. “Ninety-nine percent of the time you have to get the laces around. If he kicks the laces, it’s going to be wobbly.”
Jenkins has met Bennett after a bad punt and, well, let’s just say they aren’t making dinner plans over there.
“He’s always going to jump on me,” Jenkins shrugged. “I know if I kick one bad, he’s going to tell me what I did wrong. But he tells me to just let it go. One kick isn’t going to make your career.”
It has been a very good football life for Jenkins.
“I came from a winning career in high school and playing in college is even more awesome,” he said. “It makes it fun to play football. Everyone here is like a brother.”
Bennett and Jenkins are simply two country boys who have a unique relationship. Bennett loves to heckle his kicker.
“He can punt better than I can,” Bennett says, “but I always humble him because I went to high school with Harry Newsome and Dale Hatcher, who both punted in the NFL. I tell him, ‘They’re both better than your rear end. Now go back to work.’ ”
Jenkins gives his coach a sheepish grin but after Bennett leaves the room, Jenkins perks up.
“Him saying I’m slow ... well that’s fine. I don’t know. I’ll have to give him a challenge on that. I feel I’ve gotten a little faster.”
But is he fast enough to beat a 40-year-old? Stay tuned.
Contact Ronnie Gallagher at 704-797-4256 or email@example.com .
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