As the Chargers end their last week of practice in San Diego, MP reporter Art Garcia Jr. sat down with rookie Rayshawn Jenkins to ask him a few questions. A fourth round pick out of the University of Miami, the 6-foot-1-inch, 214-pound Jenkins appears to have all the attributes of a safety playing in new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley’s system. Last season, Jenkins had 76 tackles, 1.5 sacks, two interceptions and seven pass breakups for the Hurricanes.
Art Garcia Jr.: The safety position has a lot of competition between veterans and young players out there, how are things going for you?
Rayshawn Jenkins: Everything is going real well so far. I’m adjusting to the new atmosphere I’m in, the old guys have kind of welcomed the younger guys with open arms, and I feel like everything as of right now is going great.
AG: Did you know anything about the Chargers prior to being drafted?
RJ: The only guys I knew about was Philip Rivers, Antonio Gates, Denzel (Perryman) and my former teammate Asante Cleveland, so I knew of some guys, but not too much. But I’m really looking forward to getting to know the organization better.
AG: Some teams work out players prior to the draft, did you know the Chargers were interested in you?
RJ: No I did not. Actually, during the entire draft or combine process I didn’t talk to a single L.A. scout, a single Chargers scout. So it was one of those draft day decisions where they called me up and said they were going to “trade up for you and pick you with our next pick.” And in my head I’m thinking, “I didn’t even talk to you guys,” but I was just so excited — it was an electrifying feeling and I loved every minute of it.
AG: Where were you when you got the call, at home with your family?
RJ: Yes sir, with butterflies in my stomach. But the overall experience was great and I’m just happy I did receive the phone call.
AG: Did your agent or anyone else speculate as to what round you might be drafted?
RJ: We didn’t really pay too much attention to the projections because no one really knows at the end of the day. So he really didn’t want to stress me out about that and I didn’t want to stress myself out, so we just said whatever happens will happen, and we’ll make the most out of our situation.
AG: Did you do anything special to celebrate?
RJ: I just chilled with family. I have a son, he’s 1, and with my girlfriend. We chilled with my family at home and celebrated together.
AG: One question I like to ask rookies is what’s it like opening an envelope and seeing your name printed on your first NFL paycheck?
RJ: Man, I can tell you what — it’s nice to finally get paid for what you love doing… I definitely appreciate it. I mean, at the end of the day it’s great to receive that check. But then again, you can’t let that be your motivation. You still have to come out, you have to love the game and want to be great — that’s what I really want to do because I don’t want to let money drive me.
AG: Were you heavily recruited out of high school?
RJ: No, I really wasn’t. I was a three-star athlete and had around seven or eight scholarship offers.
AG: Why Miami?
RJ: There’s a lot of tradition down there, it’s in-state… I received an offer from Alabama also, but I didn’t want to go up there. I kind of wanted to stay home and play for the home team.
AG: “The U” had quiet the reputation back in the day, does that swagger still exist?
RJ: Yes sir — it’s still “The U,” always and forever.
AG: The Chargers haven’t had a safety since Rodney Harrison that put the fear in opposing wide receivers. Eric Weddle was an All-Pro who was well respected throughout the league, but he wasn’t as physical as Rodney. What type of player are you?
RJ: I’m really aggressive. I’m an aggressive, smart player — I like to know what’s happening before it happens so I can get an edge on the opponents. I just want to come in here and learn from the older guys like Jaleel Addae, Dwight Lowery, (Duane) Stuckey, Tre Boston guys like that because you can really pick their brains because they’ve been here. So I’m looking to do everything I can to reach the highest potential of my athletic ability.
The Endzone: Although he doesn’t pattern himself after any player, Jenkins called out Kam Chancellor (Seahawks) for his physicality and intelligence, and Eric Berry (Chiefs) for his athleticism and man-to-man coverage skills, as two players he admires.
When asked if his aggressive style of play might change because of the NFL rules cracking down on the big hits the fans love to see, Jenkins replied: “I’m going to tell you right now, it’s a fine line, but at the end of the day I play how I play and I’m going to try and intimidate you. That’s what I’m going to try to do every time, so if you come across the middle, I’m going to have to lay a hit on you. Like you said, it’s a fine line — but if you walk that line there’s going to be consequences.”