Barrin or Bo?

JIM BENDER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:38 AM ET

His teammates call him 'Barrin' Jenkins due to his uncanny resemblance to Winnipeg middle linebacker Barrin Simpson.

But 'Bo' Jenkins, as in two-sport athlete Bo Jackson, could fit just as easily because Corey Jenkins has actually embarked on his third professional sports career here in the CFL. The first-year Blue Bomber will celebrate his 31st birthday next month.

"I'm an old rookie," Jenkins admitted with a ready smile yesterday. "I was an old rookie when I got to the NFL so, it's not a bad thing for me.

"At a certain age, they try to put guys in the rocking chair. They hit 30, 31, they feel like, 'OK, he's done.' But I feel like I'm 25. I feel like I still run fairly well and I feel like I still play the game fairly well and I've got a lot of football left ... As long as you're in shape and take care of yourself, age doesn't really matter."

Jenkins was an old rookie in the NFL because he spent four years in the baseball minors before returning to football.

After sitting on the NFL sidelines for two years, Jenkins accepted the Bomber invitation to check out football of the Canuck variety. He made the squad as the starting weak-side linebacker, allowing Kyries Hebert to return to safety.

And it looks like the Columbia, S.C., native is here to stay. The 6-foot-1, 219-pound South Carolina product has recorded six defensive tackles, two forced fumbles and two pass knockdowns in his first two CFL outings.

"What astounds me about him is that he wasn't a linebacker, he was always a quarterback throughout college," said Bomber head coach Doug Berry. "At the end of his senior year, they started moving him around a little bit for his versatility. Then he played in the NFL as a defensive player a little bit. But it's not like he's been a gung-ho defensive player all of his life.

"He's a very smart guy and what gives him an edge is that he's played it from the eyes of the quarterback. He knows what he might be thinking so, he can get a jump on the ball. And in the run game, he's strong enough and physical enough that he makes his read and gets his reaction."

Jenkins played for both the NFL's Miami Dolphins and Chicago Bears, then was Carolina's final cut in last year's training camp.

"Right now, I'm still not in great football shape and I still don't have all of my natural football instincts just because it's been a two-year break," he said. "As time goes on, I know it's going to get better and better the more I play. Right now, I can feel myself getting better, I can feel myself settling in, knowing the defence and what they do. For being out two years, I don't think I'm doing too bad."

Berry, too, predicted bigger and better things from the first-year greybeard.

"He makes big plays, there's no question about it," he said. "But he can still be a little more consistent. That will keep coming with the more he plays in this league."

Jenkins actually got off to a shaky start in his first CFL outing against the Eskimos in Edmonton but got his act together in the second half of the match that ended in a 39-39 tie. Jenkins and the rest of the Blue defenders will get another crack at the Edmonton offence when the Eskimos come to town tomorrow.

"We've got to get out to a good start this week because we don't want to play from behind (again)," Jenkins said.


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