While it has been difficult, Jordan Jenkins has made a couple appearances at practice to watch his Oregon State football teammates over the last two weeks.
Jenkins, a senior running back who suffered a broken tibia and torn ligaments in his right ankle against Nicholls State on Dec. 1, has been fighting back the emotions of the end of his career.
“The injury was pretty bad,” Jenkins said. “Your leg is not supposed to bend that way.”
Jenkins had surgery two weeks ago to place a plate and three screws in his leg to help the healing process.
“Surgery went well, but right now it’s a mental game,” Jenkins said. “Being here at practice is hard, being away from the team and not playing in the bowl game is hard. You play hard and things just happen.”
Jenkins is slowly coming to grips that he has reached the end of his playing career. The Salem native had a strong season as a special teams player and was named first-team all-conference.
His strengths included his versatility and receiving out of the backfield. He finished his career with 35 receptions for 301 yards and two touchdowns.
Jenkins started out as a walk-on but earned a scholarship after his sophomore season. Had he been healthy, Jenkins hoped to train after the season and make a run at making a pro team’s training camp.
“My recovery time is going to be long,” Jenkins said. “I’ve done a lot of thinking and praying. The football road is done. I’m looking for jobs and to figure out where I’m at when I get better. I’ve been fortunate to have played this game this long. I’ve done a lot of things here I’m proud of. I guess when you know it’s the end of your career, it gets a little hard.”
Coach Mike Riley was upset when he found out the extent of the injury. He appreciated the effort Jenkins gave over the years.
Jenkins looks at it as another learning experience. He had to overcome a shoulder injury between his sophomore and junior seasons.
“When I first hurt my shoulder, it was one of the better experiences I’ve had,” Jenkins said. “I learned who I was as a person. You have a lot of days by yourself, some dark days. It is another challenge to get over.”
Jenkins is still on crutches, so it’s going to be difficult to travel to the Alamo Bowl. He plans to leave after the team so he has more time to heal at home and to avoid unnecessary hassle getting around in San Antonio.
“I still want to enjoy it with my teammates,” Jenkins said. “They’ve gone a long way and I want to see them against Texas to show we can play with anyone. It will be hard, but great to watch.”