Alfred Jenkins didn’t want to play football in college.
All he wanted to do was receive an education and enjoy his time at Morris Brown. But his family didn’t have the money, so he took a football scholarship.
Some 360 receptions, 6,267 yards and 40 touchdowns later, a case could be made that Jenkins’ jersey should hang in the Georgia Dome rafters next to other former Falcons greats, such as Tommy Nobis, Steve Bartkowski and Deion Sanders.
Jenkins was an all-state player in basketball and track at Hogansville High and made the AJC’s all-state football team in 1968. He was recruited by many of the larger programs, but because the curriculum at Hogansville wasn’t strong, he didn’t meet some of the academic requirements to play at those schools.
He chose Morris Brown, where he had four solid years and was a scholastic All-American. But at 5-foot-9 and from a small school, he wasn’t taken in the 1974 NFL Draft.
Jenkins received a tryout with the Houston Oilers, but was cut.
He came back home and returned to school before receiving a tryout with the Birmingham Americans of the World Football League.
The league was in its inaugural year and the Americans won the first and only World Bowl. Jenkins was considered one of the WFL’s top players, but the league folded midway through the next season.
The Falcons were desperate to find receivers for the 1975 season, so they contacted Jenkins and thus began the long and close relationship between Jenkins and coach Marion Campbell.
Jenkins was fearless over the middle and soon became Bartkowski’s favorite receiver, collecting 1,035 receiving yards in 1980 and making the Pro Bowl.
He came back the next season with 70 receptions and led the NFL in receiving yards (1,358) and touchdowns (13), again making the Pro Bowl. Jenkins also was named first-team All-Pro, along with Green Bay’s James Lofton and Denver’s Steve Watson.
Jenkins was also part of the sports broadcasting team assembled by Harmon Wages at Channel 5, which included the Braves’ Phil Niekro, Lou Hudson of the Hawks and Curt Bennett of the Flames.
Jenkins retired from the NFL after the 1983 season, holding many of the franchise’s receiving records. He’s still fourth on the all-time list in receiving yards and touchdowns.
Jenkins has worked as a teacher and stone mason since he retired.
Where he lives: Now 64, Jenkins lives in College Park and has five children; daughters Kellie, Astarte and Angela, and sons Phillip and Alfred. He has four grandchildren.
What he does: Jenkins said he continues to try to stay healthy, follows the Falcons and loves to return to team reunions.
On playing high school football in Hogansville: "It was tough. I was recruited by a lot of schools, but our high school didn't meet some of the requirements I needed to go to them. Actually, my high school advisor told me about Morris Brown and I went to homecoming, and it was the first time I had been to a college campus and I had never been exposed to that. There were people in the stands having a good time, majorettes and everything.''
On going to Morris Brown: "It was the five best years of my life. But coming out of college, I was short and only about 155 pounds. I was going to go into the Air Force. But a friend of mind told me about a tryout for the World Football League at Lakewood Stadium. I only went out there to watch, but as we sat there, my friend said, 'Alfred, you are better than any of those guys out there.' I said, 'I don't have any workout clothes,' but he was a sporting goods guy and had some in his trunk. I think he set me up. They only signed three people out of the tryout and I was one of them.''
On playing in the WFL: "I didn't even know if I was going to make the team. I was going against another guy who was a world-class sprinter and we were down to the last scrimmage game, and I had hurt my shoulder and he was banged up. But I played in the scrimmage and he sat out and I made it. I think we played 23 games and played a two-quarterback system. We were promised $25,000 if we won the World Bowl, but got only $2,500. The shame of it was I never got a ring because the only players that did were those that went back to the team and I went to the Falcons.''
On signing with the Falcons: "I wanted to play in Atlanta and I was in there negotiating with (general manager) Pat Peppler and it wasn't happening. But when I got home, the phone rang and it was Marion Campbell, and he said they were going to give me what I wanted. I told that story at Marion's funeral a few months ago. Marion thought he was your granddaddy and didn't have a prejudiced bone in his body. He was also a hell of a coach. He was a great friend.''
On his years in Atlanta: "When I showed up, they didn't have many receivers. Their best one was Ken Burrow, but I really liked my coach (Jimmy Orr), and later on, I would get Jimmy Raye, who was my favorite coach. I had good stats my rookie year, but I then broke my collarbone early in the 1978 season and I don't think the team ever thought I would come back from that. I think that was the reason all they would give me were one-year contracts and I didn't get along with management come contract time. I always tried to compare my stats to Lynn Swann and there were a lot of years where I was in the top 10 in the league in receiving.''
On the 1980 season: "We were one game away from the Super Bowl before the loss to Dallas and we were one game from getting $18,000 for playing in the conference championship. The Cowboys came back on us and the Cowboys' big touchdown came on that wounded duck throw when Rolland Lawrence was looking at the strong side and never saw the pass. They treated Rolland really poorly after that and there was a rumor that one of the team executives said after that play that Rolland would never play for the Falcons again, and he didn't.''
On retiring: "I thought I might get a job selling advertising for the TV station after I did that work for them, but it didn't work out. I had learned at a young age to be a stone mason and there are a lot of walls that I did that are still up. I am still close with Wallace Francis and Alfred Jackson, and I would like to see Junior Miller again. I still get the chance to see Bart.''