Junior defensive tackle Nick Jenkins and the Cavaliers are coming off the program’s first season-opening triumph since 2005, as UVa topped visiting Richmond 34-13 in week one. The Westminster, Md., native recently sat down with VirginiaSports.com to discuss the victory, Saturday’s non-conference road game at USC as well his trademark hair and other favorites of one of UVa’s five captains.
Question: With the win against Richmond Saturday, the team captured its first season-opening victory since 2005. How does it feel to start the season on a high-note for the first time since you’ve been playing in Charlottesville?
Jenkins: It was very good to finally get a home opener, especially for the seniors who have been here for four or five years, and some of the coaches, for whom it’s their first year. So it was good all around the board, and it’s a nice way to start the season.
Question: Saturday’s game marked the highly anticipated debut of the 4-3 defense, a departure from the 3-4 scheme the team has used over the past several seasons. How do you feel the new defense fared in its first showing?
Jenkins: It went very well. Everyone was flying around the field, and it looked really clean. We still have a couple of things to work on before Saturday though, so there’s still some brushing up to do. It was a lot of fun out there.
Question: You were named one of the team’s captains at the start of this season. Do you feel any added pressure now to be a leader on the field, or does the role come naturally?
Jenkins: Coach always explains there’s 11 leaders out there on the field, and I think you could see that, especially Saturday night with guys like LaRoy Reynolds, Ausar Walcott, and Aaron Taliaferro. All of those guys stepped up and played major roles in the game, but so did everyone else, too.
Question: Saturday’s game against Richmond was also the debut for the new uniforms the team unveiled last spring. What did you think?
Jenkins: They looked awesome. They looked really good on film the day after, and everyone at the game seemed impressed with them as well. I have no clue, which color combination I like best yet, but the orange-and-blue turned out great for the opener. Hopefully, we’ll look nice this weekend with white-on-orange for the first time.
Question: Speaking of this weekend, what are your thoughts on the upcoming matchup against such a prestigious program like Southern California? Do you anticipate any jitters about playing in front of such a large crowd in the hallowed Coliseum?
Jenkins: They’re going to be real good obviously. They’ve got NFL-caliber and NFL-sized players, NFL-type coaches, and NFL schemes, but we’ve been working hard and we feel we have a pretty good team ourselves. We’re excited to get out there and play in the Coliseum. It’s definitely the biggest crowd I’ve ever played in front of, so it’ll be an exciting experience.
Question: The USC game might be among your biggest as a Cavalier just because of the caliber of the opponent and the hostile environment, but you’ve witnessed a similar high-intensity game before, when you were on-hand to see your brother win the Division I-A national championship with James Madison in 2005. Since you both played football, was there ever a sibling rivalry growing up?
Jenkins: He was much bigger than me and seven years older than me, so there wasn’t as much of a rivalry as you might expect. He played offensive guard, so he was the offensive person in the family and I’ve always been the defensive person in the family. If it wasn’t for my brother playing and him doing so well at football though, I don’t think I would’ve even gotten into it.
Question: No interview with Nick Jenkins is complete without asking about “the hair.” When’s the last time you had it cut? What was the inspiration behind the idea of donating your hair for “Locks of Love”?
Jenkins: November of freshman year is when I first started growing it out. I did it mostly because of my mom-she’s known a bunch of people who have gone through cancer and through chemo. Just being around her and family members and family friends who have gone through it, I just thought it’d be a good idea. If I have the hair, I might as well grow it out for something good. I’m planning to cut it after next season when I’m done with my collegiate playing career.
Question: That has to get hot under your helmet.
Jenkins: It’s not too bad. I’m just so used to it by now – that it’s not as much of an issue as you might think.
Question: Let’s finish up with some “quick hit” answers – Favorite psych-up tune?
Jenkins: Gabriel and Dresden, “Tracking Treasure Down”
Question: Bodo’s Bagel of choice?
Jenkins: Pastrami and cheese
Question: Favorite NFL team?
Jenkins: Baltimore Ravens
Question: Ice cream flavor?
Jenkins: Mint Chocolate Chip
Question: And to close – if you could attend any sporting event, what would it be?
Jenkins: Manchester City or Chelsea soccer game – That atmosphere would be awesome to watch and play in!