By Dave Morrison
Register-Herald Sports Writer
West Virginia offensive lineman Josh Jenkins feels like he has a new lease on life.
The 6-foot-3, 291-pound redshirt senior guard, who was injured in the Blue-Gold game last April, is back and better than ever.
“I did work hard, and I worked with the coaches to determine what I can or cannot do,” Jenkins said. “I’m not limited at all.”
Obviously, he wants to make the most of the opportunity. The tricky part is, he is almost like the new guy, not getting the chance to play last year under first-year coach Dana Holgorsen and line coach Bill Bedenbaugh.
For that, he is leaning on old friends for a hand.
“(Guard) Jeff Braun has been helping me out with the plays, and (center) Joe Madsen has been telling me what I need to do on some plays, so it’s definitely helping me now,” Jenkins said.
It’s not like he hasn’t played the game.
Before the spring game injury, Jenkins started 24 games and played in 29.
“I got experience in the games, and I’ve been here for a while — I’m an old man now,” Jenkins said.
And as an old man, he has more appreciation for the opportunity.
“You never know when your last snap (could be),” Jenkins said. “Mine could have been last spring, so it definitely made me have more appreciation for the game and enjoy this more. You only get to do this once in a lifetime.”
Bedenbaugh has been pleased with Jenkins’ progress for a line that had been maligned for not getting the job done for a good portion of Jenkins’ career.
“He looks pretty good, a little hesitant the first day but that’s understandable,” Bedenbaugh said. “He can’t worry about (the injury). Whatever happens is going to happen; he just has to go out there and play full speed. He brings experience to the whole group.”
Jenkins is one of the most decorated linemen in state high school history, coming out of Parkersburg as a multiple Hunt Award winner (top lineman) and a Parade All-American. The three-time first-team all-stater helped the Big Reds win back-to-back state titles.
He played almost immediately, but his freshman season (2008) was sidetracked by a knee injury against Rutgers, costing him the rest of the season.
Jenkins then started 24 games over the next two seasons.
He admitted it was tough sitting out last season.
Especially watching the Mountaineers’ record-setting 70-33 demolition of Clemson in the Orange Bowl in January.
“I was happy for my teammates, and I was still part of the team so I still felt proud, but it was tough not being able to play and not being able to contribute,” Jenkins said. “Things happen for a reason, and luckily I’m back here again this year.”
Holgorsen, for his part, is happy about it too.
“You’ve got to consider him as a returning starter,” Holgorsen said. “He went through a whole spring last year and was sitting in on meeting during the season, so he knows what to do. He’s been full-time since we got back from the bowl game, which is running and lifting. Not a whole lot you can do other than that.”