Olney (Md.) Our Lady of Good Counsel linebacker Jelani Jenkins is done with his official visits after taking a trip to Penn State this past weekend. Now it's decision time for the 6-foot-2, 220-pounder as he hosts numerous coaches over the next few weeks. Florida head coach Urban Meyer was in the Jenkins household on Wednesday. How did it go?
"It was good, they were here from the afternoon until about 10 at night," said Jelani's father Maurice Jenkins. "We had a good visit and from the first time I've met Urban Meyer, Charlie Strong and the staff at Florida I've felt comfortable. This was the same thing and I know Jelani feels the same way."
Maurice and Jelani's mother, Stephanie, hosted Meyer and defensive coordinator Charlie Strong. The two coaches talked to Jelani about immediate playing time at weakside linebacker as well as his role on the team down the line.
"They talked about a lot of the things we discussed when Jelani was on his official visit," said Maurice. "Having Brandon Spikes coming back only helps Florida because he's the spiritual leader of the defense and he and Jelani hit it off when they met on his official. Jelani being so young (he turns 17 in March), having someone like Brandon and his experience there can only help."
But before Florida fans start counting Jenkins as a part of the Gators 2009 recruiting class, there is plenty of competition.
"It's down to Florida, Penn State, Notre Dame, Stanford and Southern Cal," said Maurice. "We saw Southern Cal and Stanford when we went on a west coast trip last spring and we went to Notre Dame as well. And last weekend we were at Penn State so Jelani is done with official visits. He has a ton of stuff to do over the next few weekends as far as awards dinners and such so we won't be able to get any more in."
Does that give Florida and Penn State a clear advantage?
"No, all five schools are in the mix," Maurice said. "Coach Weis and coach Harbaugh already came in and did their in-home visits and we're waiting to hear from pete Carroll. I'm not sure if Joe Paterno will do an in-home visit or not but that doesn't matter because we spent so much time with him last weekend."
As far as the Penn State visit itself, Jenkins' father said it went very well.
"It's a different vibe at Penn State," he said. "There's so much tradition, stability and respect there. I think the average coach there has been there for 15 years or something like that and there is so much respect for coach Paterno.
"At Florida it's more of a quiet confidence. They are so young and have so many great athletes that they just re-load. They have less stability in the coaching staff because a lot of the guys are young and moving up in the business but coach Meyer isn't going anywhere and coach Strong is also loyal."
Jenkins' parents also took a recent unofficial visit to Gainesville when they were down in Florida for the Under Armour All American Game.
"We decided to swing over and check it out again," he said. "We've been there a few times but we decided to see it again. while we were down there."
Jenkins will wait until Signing Day to make his decision and will do so on one of the ESPN channels.
"Jelani will have all five schools represented when he decides and we are still doing our homework," his father said. "Each school on his list has the combination of academics, athletics and comfort level that Jelani wants so he can't go wrong with his choice."