We've been around the tree a number of times on the 49ers' first-round draft-pick A.J. Jenkins. It was a surprise hearing his name called on day one. Some say he's too small to play on the outside. Still others are convinced the 49ers weren't the only team interested in Jenkins as one of the best receivers in the draft.
Whatever the case may be it's clear to this guy that Jenkins is focusing on the only thing he can control: being as prepared as he can be to prove himself.
In his post-selection interview Jenkins indicated that he wouldn't be arriving to the Bay Area until after his college graduation ceremony held on May 13th. This would mean he was planning to miss the entire rookie mini-camp taking place May 11th thru 13th.
It seemed honorable enough, and I'm sure Jim Harbaugh wouldn't have had a major issue with it. The young man put in four hard years and rather than leave school as an underclassmen, he stayed and earned a degree. Who could fault the man for wanting to walk across the stage and be handed that special piece of paper?
There wasn't a big-deal made of it, at all.
But now it seems that Jenkins perhaps hadn't realized that his graduation ceremony was in-fact going to coincide with the 49ers rookie mini-camp. He's since decided he will arrive in the Bay on Thursday May 10th and not only will he attend the camp...he's making the move long-term as of that day, as well.
He knows he needs to get a jump on learning the offense, getting to know the coaches better, the facility, the area. He's doing all he can to set himself up for success.
Jenkins' agent even indicated that while he doesn't foresee any snags in the contract negotiation process, his client will sign an injury waiver in order to participate fully in all off-season activities.
One of these activities, while not team-sanctioned, includes an invitation from the greatest receiver of all time: Jerry Rice.
Rice tweeted Jenkins soon after the latter was drafted, saying he would take the rookie to "The Hill".
@Ajjenkins8 congrats on being a niner! Holla at me will take you to the hill. Lol— Jerry Rice (@JerryRice) April 27, 2012
Jenkins was humbled.
In the last week the two have exchanged tweets as well, each promising to be ready to take-on The Hill. According to Rice, if you can make it up the 2.5 mile dirt trail you'll be more likely to have something left in the tank come the fourth quarter of an NFL football game.
Jenkins promises to be ready, and I have to believe him. Thus-far he's doing everything right to prepare himself for what's ahead. Following someone like Rice, known by everyone to be among the most maniacally hard-working guys in the world, is a good start.
Here is more on The Hill: