Steve Lewis/Durango Herald
Steve Lewis/Durango Herald
Tim Jenkins hasnít lacked in the achievement department, even if the Fort Lewis College football team doesnít have the wins it would like to show for it.
A four-year starter for the Skyhawks, Jenkins dots the schoolís record book in key passing categories:
Heís third in passing yards with 8,857.
Heís second in completions with 876.
Heís third in touchdowns with 47.
And his 501 yards passing against top-ranked CSU-Pueblo is the third-highest single-game mark in school history.
The only area lacking is victories. FLC is just 8-32 since Jenkins arrived in Durango, and theyíre still looking for win No. 1 this season after narrow misses against Western New Mexico and Western State.
The 2009 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Offensive Freshman of the year and two-time Offensive Player of the Week sat down with The Durango Herald on the eve of Senior Day against Chadron State Ė a game in which he may or may not play with a shoulder injury Ė to discuss the highs and lows of his career and plans for the future.
Durango Herald: Out of the entire bunch of things youíve been able to do and youíve been able to do as a team, what strikes you as the moment or accomplishment that maybe stands out the most?
Tim Jenkins: For me, really, as a team, itís been being able to send all the seniors out on top (my first three seasons). Throughout my career weíve really won every single last game weíve played that season. So, being able to give the seniors Ė not as many wins as we wouldíve wanted Ė but to be able to win that last college football game for them, thatís kind of something that Iím proud of. Individually, honestly, probably the (National Football Foundation & College Football Hall of Fame Ė Colorado Chapter Player of the Week) award this year. Because something Iíve always prided myself on, whether it was Little League or, you know, high school, itís being able to step up in the big moments. And playing a team like (CSU-Pueblo) and being able to throw for 500 yards was kind of special.
DH: You mentioned being able to send the seniors out on top. For you guys as a group, now that youíre a senior, youíve got two more chances at it. How do you envision those last two going as you try to get one for yourself this time?
TJ: Obviously you want to win them. Chadronís a great football team, so weíve got our work cut out for us this week, but you know, finishing up in South Dakota (at Black Hills State) Ė I mean, I guess thereís no better way to finish up in the bus league than with a 17-hour trip up to South Dakota for your last one. I joked with coach (Cesar Rivas-Sandoval) about, you know, maybe Iíll have to fly home from that one. But no, youíve got to enjoy the last bus trip and really make the most out of it.
DH: Absolutely. And take it back four years. Who else was looking at you, and when was the moment that you decided that this was the place for you?
TJ: I really got offers from every school in the RMAC. I was leaning towards Ė it was the Adams (States), the Chadrons, the (Nebraska) Kearneys. What really made me want to come here four years ago was Rif (then-head coach and current defensive coordinator Ed Rifilato). And, you know, they used to have the cannon, so they used to shoot off the cannon after every score. So, that was something that was kind of cool that would be fun here. I just really liked Durango, and, you know, I knew I could have an impact right away. Whether that ended up in wins and losses or just kind of impacting the tradition of quarterback play and kind of moving the program forward.
DH: Thereís been quite a good run of quarterback play here over the last decade or so, and seeing where you rank amongst those, is that a big point of pride for you that youíve been able to put up numbers that ranks you with some of those guys like the Andrew Webbs (the schoolís all-time leading passer) and so on?
TJ: Absolutely. Itís a huge accomplishment, especially at a school like this. You go down the line, and you read about guys becoming their teamís all-time career leading passer, and he has like, you know, 4,000 yards. So that kind of puts it into perspective that to be No. 1 at this school, youíve got to beat Webb, whoís a 10,000-plus guy. So to be, I think, third all-time right now, and thatís probably where Iíll end my career, itís an accomplishment. It feels good to be top three. Thereís a lot of great quarterbacks that have come through here statistics-wise, so itís good to be up in that conversation with them.
DH: You listed a whole bunch of other RMAC schools. Retroactively, or looking back, do you have any regrets? I mean, are you happy with what youíve been able to accomplish here, or do you look at that and maybe go, man, what if (I played elsewhere)?
TJ: I mean, I think everybody has the what ifs. Mineís not necessarily if I wouldíve gone somewhere else. Mineís more, I wish I couldíve impacted the wins and losses here more. I think I impacted this town in a lot of different ways just being myself, kind of. And the other coaches, theyíll talk to me after the game, and they kind of, you know, they all hint at it wouldíve been different if youíre here, but, I mean ultimately, in the position I am now to, you know, really be six months away from possibly being in an NFL camp and really taking a shot at the next level. Iíve done everything I really wanted to put myself into, so thatís really all you can ask for is to have a shot at your dream now.
DH: And where do you put your shot at that dream? Have you been hearing things from people? Is that the future goal, to get into camp and see if you canít make an impression and maybe stick somewhere?
TJ: Absolutely thatís the goal for me. I know the coaches have been hearing from a lot of people, and, you know, Iím coming from a different situation being Division II, but I also think that adds another chip on my shoulder, as well, going into it. I mean, thatís always been the goal since I was little, so youíve got to take the shot at it. From everything that Iíve heard, Optimum Scouting has me top-25 quarterbacks right now coming out, all divisions, so that makes you feel good, and you really want to just take a shot at it. Iím just kind of going to finish this year for everybody, and then youíve got to see where the process takes you after that.
DH: Do you gain any maybe inspiration (from other Division II players that have made it in the NFL)?
TJ: Absolutely. Big one for me is (New England Patriots running back) Danny Woodhead, because he played at Chadron, another RMAC guy. So we have a lot of guys it seems like, theyíll get into camp and some stick, some donít. I mean, Danny and them really paved the way for us to get our shots, and thatís all you can ask for is to get up there and take a shot at it, because itís the ultimate business to be a part of.
DH: Obviously everybody wants their senior season to be the best one. You guys had some high hopes coming in here. What maybe are one or two of the areas that seem to have thrown you off the track you were hoping to be on?
TJ: You know, the first one was the (New Mexico) Highlands game. It was tough because you didnít expect to lose 50-0, and when you turn the ball over like we did, especially being a senior quarterback, you donít expect to have turnovers. And the kind of stuff, I donít want to say we overlooked, but you kind of take for granted being older. ... The Highlands game, then obviously having the concussion and not being able to play against (Northern Arizona). Iím a big believer in the momentum of the season. Maybe you turn and pull that Western New Mexico game out, maybe that turns into a little bit of a different season. But I mean certain things here and there that I think can really change a season and change a tradition. Having coach Rivas on our side of the ball for the first time in his career as well, I think weíve done some really good stuff, and I think thatís really going to prepare us for future success here.
DH: What do you think about the way this program is set up for the future after youíre gone?
TJ: I think itís set up for success. I really do. In my heart, I truly believe itís going to be a lot easier on these younger quarterbacks when Iím not here. When Iím gone doing whatever happens to be next year, thatís going to make it a lot easier on those guys to kind of take control and be the leader. Not necessarily look over their shoulder at, well, ĎWhat would Tim have done in this situation?í I think when Iím out of here, itíll make it easier on them to step up and really take ownership over the team and the guys.
DH: And are you happy with the impact youíve been able to make over four years here?
TJ: Iím really happy with the impact Iíve been able to make. I mean, just putting myself in a position to achieve the goals that Iíve had forever that could potentially help this program a lot more than the wins and losses that Iíve had on the field. ... Weíve done a lot of things here in four years. Broke in a new staff. Had I think three different offensive coordinators Ė thatís two more than Iíve even had girlfriends here, so (laughs). But itís really been a positive experience for me and my family, as well.
DH: And how difficult is that, bouncing from offensive coordinator to offensive coordinator? I mean I would imagine a college guy would want some sort of continuity.
TJ: Absolutely. And I think thatís one of the things Iíve taken pride in in my career is being able to adjust now to three different offenses in four years and still keep successful. We havenít had the wins that weíve wanted, but statistically, you know, thatís something that we have been able to be proud of is how many passing yards we have year in and year out. To be able to adjust year in and year out to different systems, different O-coordinators and how they call games, that really helps me out a ton in my future I think in learning offenses.
DH: You had the misfortune of being banged up here and there the last few years. Is there a part of you that thinks, ĎMan, if I hadnít taken this hit here or if I wouldíve been able to avoid this hit there,í that things would be even better for you personally than they have been?
TJ: Oh yeah. I mean, you think about that a ton. If anything, I think my brother describes it well: He always says Iím wired a little different. Every time Iíve gotten hurt in my career, Iíve come back better, and Iíve kind of committed myself more to the weight room and watching film. ... Ultimately, I think thatís kind of shaped who I am now, so you canít really wish anything else wouldíve happened.
DH: We talked about you over four years here. How has this campus and playing on this particular team shaped you in four years?
TJ: Oh, gosh, itís shaped me in a ton of ways. First and foremost, I think itís shaped leadership. I mean, coming out of ThunderRidge (High School), I never really lost. Itís easy to be a leader when everythingís going well. No one questions anything youíre doing because everythingís going so well. So coming here, you know, I think thatís one thing that all that adversity has helped me form my leadership skills. Being a quarterback throughout a tough season isnít always the easiest thing in the world to do. So being able to stay positive and keep the guys going is something that Iíve taken pride on. ... You kind of form relationships that youíre going to keep forever, so thatís all you can ask for.
Steve Lewis/Durango Herald
Steve Lewis/Durango Herald file photo
Steve Lewis/Durango Herald file photo