Wheaton (Md.) Our Lady of Good Counsel linebacker Jelani Jenkins is arguably the best defensive prospect in the country for the class of 2009. And, at only 16-years-old, coverage of the recruiting process has been limited for obvious reasons. However, Jenkins narrowed down his list of schools to 15 late Sunday night and gave Rivals.com the exclusive.
"In no order, my final 15 schools are as follows...Southern Cal, Illinois, Michigan, Virginia Tech, Oregon, Miami, LSU, Maryland, Notre Dame, Penn State, Stanford, Boston College, Florida, Clemson and Tennessee," said the 6-foot-1, 212-pounder. "It was very hard to get it down this far from more than 40 schools, but my family and I sat down and we looked at a few different categories to get it narrowed down."
Jenkins has already visited many of the schools on his list.
"I've been to Southern Cal, Illinois, Michigan, Virginia Tech, Maryland, Notre Dame, Penn State and Stanford," he said. "I also visited Florida for a camp after my sophomore year and my mom visited LSU. I haven't been to Oregon, Miami, Boston College, Clemson, Tennessee and I haven't seen LSU myself yet."
What categories did Jenkins and his family use to narrow things down?
"There were a few like academics, coaches, players put in the NFL, depth chart, a lot of them," he said. "But we didn't go really deep into a lot of them yet. Now we are going to look closer at each school."
Jenkins father, Maurice, agreed.
"The next step for us is to talk to the assistant coaches and get a really good feel for them," he said. "We're also going to research the depth chart because Jelani really wants to get on the field early."
Jenkins is expected to take all five official visits and determining which schools get those trips will be hard.
"The trips I take won't necessarily be to my top five schools," said Jenkins. "We're going to try to see some of the schools I haven't been able to visit yet, maybe a few we can't afford to visit on our own. Right now I'm not sure of any of my officials, we're going to go through that next. I know I won't be taking any until after our season is over though. I might go to some games that are driving distance during the remainder of the season, but no officials."
Jenkins is the top outside linebacker in the country as ranked by Rivals.com and he has the best closing speed. He is also the top player in the state of Maryland.
A few schools Jenkins had been interested in early in the process that didn't make the cut include UCLA, Virginia and West Virginia but there are no big surprises to his list of 15.