By Joel Flom
Arizona Daily Wildcat
September 17, 1997

Future is now for newly promoted Jenkins

Football practice has not been the same since the loss of senior reserve quarterback Brady Batten to injury, but a little good must come from every bad situation.

The broken left collarbone that will leave Batten on the sideline for at least the next six weeks will open the door for redshirt freshman Ortege Jenkins to get more snaps than he would have gotten had Batten remained healthy.

"It is a shame," UA head coach Dick Tomey said. "But at the same time the silver lining in all this, as much as we hate Brady's injury, is that Ortege will get some work he wouldn't have gotten."

Jenkins, who was recruited as a quarterback and entered fall drills at No. 3 on the depth chart, was making a switch from quarterback to wide receiver before the injury.

The coaches were so impressed with his abilities, they didn't want to waste him as he groomed behind Batten and starting quarterback Keith Smith. The move, however, will now have to be put on hold.

"He (Jenkins) is not going to play receiver much," Tomey said. "He might play a little, but it wouldn't be a good idea for him to play a lot."

Tomey said if he did see any action as a receiver it would be in a small, well-defined role.

Despite playing multiple positions, Jenkins said he is ready to guide the offense if he gets the chance.

"I know the offense well," Jenkins said. "If I have any weaknesses (as a quarterback) it is at reading defenses and doing audible work."

If the opportunity arises that Smith needs a breather, Jenkins will enjoy the moment.

"I am ready to take on the challenge," Jenkins said. "It (injuries) is something that happens in a contact sport. That is why teams carry three or four quarterbacks. I will just have to step up."

As far as the receivers are concerned, it doesn't matter who is firing the ball into their hands.

"We (the receivers) have to execute with whoever is in there," sophomore wide receiver Brad Brennan said. "They (Keith Smith and Jenkins) both have amazing abilities."

The multi-talented 6-foot-2, 218 pound Jenkins redshirted last season as a scout team quarterback, and then eased away from football to start practicing with the basketball team. Jenkins, however, injured his knee practicing with the UA basketball team.

Shortly after, Jenkins had surgery on his left anterior cruciate ligament and spent last year watching the teams from the sidelines.

Now, with the injury to Batten, Jenkins is the one staying after practice getting extra reps.

"It will advance his development," Tomey said.

Jenkins saw limited action in Saturday's win over the University of Alabama-Birmingham - he ran for 11 yards on two scrambles, nearly found his way into the endzone, but time expired with the team inside the five-yard line.

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