It's coming up on a year now since Josh Jenkins left the annual Blue-Gold Game with a knee injury. As it turned out, it was announced during the summer that the injury would sideline him for the 2011 season.
Fortunately, Jenkins was granted a medical hardship and has a year of eligibility left to play in 2012. This week, the senior returned to the football field with his teammates to participate in spring practices, and he appears to have recovered nicely.
"Pretty good," offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh said of Jenkins' first week. "A little hesitant the first day, which is understandable, but as he gets into it with pads and starts hitting, again, it's just a matter of him feeling confident. He can't worry about it, because whatever's going to happen is going to happen. You've just got to go out there and play full speed and not worry about it."
Jenkins was obviously happy for his teammates in Miami when they took on the ACC Champions Clemson and came away with a dominating victory. That doesn't mean it was easy for him to watch the game on the sidelines, unable to play.
That brings us to March, with Jenkins cleared to put on pads and do full workouts with the team. He could hardly wait to get back out onto the field.
"I was really excited," Jenkins said of the night before the first practice of spring. "I was like a little kid. I didn't really sleep the night before. I didn't go to bed until like seven in the morning the night before because I couldn't sleep- I just kept thinking about it. A little nervous, I guess."
Having Jenkins back this season is a huge bonus for West Virginia. He came to Morgantown as one of the top offensive lineman recruits in the country. This will now be his fifth season at WVU and, despite not playing in a single game last season, he was able to learn Holgorsen's offense.
"You've got to consider him a returning starter," said Dana Holgorsen. "He got hurt in the Spring Game, so he went through a whole spring and was sitting in those meetings, so he knows what to do and he's happy to be out there."
Jenkins said that some of his teammates have been helping him make it a smooth transition, but Bedenbaugh knows that Jenkins is helping them out at the same time.
"Well, he brings experience to the whole group," Bedenbaugh said, "and I know Joey (Madsen) probably feels a bit more comfortable. (Jeff) Braun is a better right side player. He's lost some weight and feels more comfortable in that stance. So just guys feeling more comfortable with the experience that he has."
Just because he hasn't been on the field doesn't mean Jenkins hasn't been working out. It was planned that he would be able to begin workouts once last season ended, and that's exactly what the senior has been doing. Those workouts don't include any time on the field, but he was still able to partake in some physical activity.
"He's been full-time since we got back from the bowl game," Holgorsen said of Jenkins' workouts, "which is running and lifting. There's not a whole lot you can do other than that."
It's been just a week of practice and only one of those days was in pads, but both Jenkins and his coaches seem pleased with what they've seen from him so far.
"I feel pretty comfortable out there," Jenkins said. "It's just going to take some time to get the scheme of the offense down- the timing and everything, but I feel pretty comfortable."
As the spring goes on, Jenkins will be looking to be even more comfortable and completely eliminate any hesitation he may have had in his first week. He has the potential to be another weapon on an offense that has proven it can be nearly unstoppable.