IOWA CITY, Iowa — When discussing Iowa commit Jeff Jenkins, Prairie Ridge football coach Chris Schremp doesn’t jump first to the pancake blocks or sacks that helped win two state titles.
Instead, his mind wanders to a random practice day where Jenkins treats the most tedious of tasks how others approach a playoff game.
“He just raises everyone’s practice level because he is going so hard,” Schremp said. “He goes all out on every rep of every individual drill we have.”
Class of 2018 commits Samson Evans and Jenkins did more than lead Prairie Ridge to consecutive undefeated state championships in Illinois. In the process, they displayed the kind of traits, like Jenkins’ work ethic, that Iowa actively seeks and showed why they could potentially thrive at the next level.
“When Iowa talks about their type of football player I think these two guys fit that mold,” Schremp said. “They are kind of the lunch pail guys where they bring the lunch box and go to work, work hard, go home and get right back at it the next day.”
Give 110 percent effort. Coaches say the cliché all the time. Rarely do they see it play out.
“I’ve never had a kid I could say really gives it everything he’s got each and every play the way Jeff does,” Schremp said.
His capacity for work turned Jenkins into a 3-star prospect and two-time all-state two-way lineman. His play was vital to the Wolves claiming each title. What his performance did for those around him potentially impacted the program more.
“You watch the kid dominate in so many areas,” Schremp said. “That is really how he raised the guys around him. Those guys are trying to keep up with his level of play and we definitely saw that.”
— Jeff Jenkins (@Jeffjenkins77) November 28, 2017
Jenkins, a future Iowa offensive lineman, is the definition of a leader by example, but he knew repeating as state champs would be tougher than claiming the first title. It’s why he decided to become more of a vocal leader as a senior.
During the summer, he went to a weekly lunch with the rest of the offensive line. Prairie Ridge needed to replace two starters up front and Jenkins spoke with the young inexperienced players to prepare them for the season.
He told them to focus on what they wanted from the season, and to work backwards from there, figuring out what they must do to turn their goals a reality.
“It was nice to have something to point to and say, hey, if you can get through these tough days there can be some great days at the end and it will allow you to have some fun,” Jenkins said. “What I always came back to was begin with the end in mind and what could come of it.”
Evans doesn’t take defeat well. It’s the first trait Schremp mentions about him.
“What you will see is he is really a kid that is a competitor,” Schremp said. “Absolutely hates to lose and will do everything he can to get his team to win.”
It’s the kind of intensity that can manifest in the weight room or during agility drills too. Though, it shows up best on game day.
He rushed for 2,101 yards and 37 touchdowns and threw for 605 yards and 8 touchdowns this season and the Chicago Sun-Times named him its football player of the year.
“All he does is make plays,” Jenkins said.
A look at some of the career numbers from Prairie Ridge QB Samson Evans' career, which finished Saturday with the Wolves winning back-to-back Class 6A state titles. pic.twitter.com/Mfjv457suO
— Joe Stevenson (@nwh_JoePrepZone) November 28, 2017
His biggest came in the second round of the playoffs. With Prairie Ridge trailing 13-10 and 66 yards from the end zone with 19.7 seconds left, Schremp called for a quarterback counter.
With two offensive linemen, including Jenkins, leading the way, Samson ran to his right. The linemen cleared out Cary-Grove defenders, creating a path to the end zone. Samson ran down the sidelines and hurdled a defender before scoring the game-winning touchdown.
“I didn’t think there was any way,” Jenkins said, “but he did it.”
For Jenkins, the touchdown wasn’t just a wild play. It’s the best example he can find for
who he and Evans are.
And as a result, it explains why what they learned the last two seasons could very well carry over to Iowa.
“We both try to lead more by example than being vocal and I think that kind of summed it up,” Jenkins said. “That’s how hard you have to work if you want things to happen. I think guys kind of saw that. If you want to be special and have special things happen, like win state championships, you sometimes have to make plays and do your thing.”
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