Liberty running back Chandler Jenkins signs with Air Force

March 4, 2011

By Tim Pfarr

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A month ago, Liberty High School senior Chandler Jenkins wasn’t sure where he wanted to go to college. The three-sport athlete had received scholarship offers from numerous colleges to play football, but he wasn’t sure which one to take.

However, on national signing day Feb. 2, he signed a letter of intent with the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.

“I didn’t want to regret the decision in five years,” Jenkins said.

Chandler Jenkins (second from right) poses for photos after signing a letter of intent to play football for the Air Force Academy. With him are former football and basketball coach Ken Burns (left) Liberty football head coach Steve Valach (second from left) and his father Cephus Jenkins (right). By Tim Pfarr

He said he wanted to set himself up for a good career, although he is not sure what field he would like to go into.

Jenkins will play the slot receiver position in the Air Force triple-option offense, and will get plenty of opportunities to run the ball.

Jenkins celebrated his signing before school Feb. 9 in Liberty’s career center. With him were his father Cephus, mother Kathleen, stepfather Neal, older brother Jordan, aunt Shirley and grandmother Thelma.

“He could have been a pro at basketball, baseball or football,” Cephus Jenkins said. “The kid just had it. He could adapt to anything, left-handed or right-handed. It didn’t matter.”

Cephus had coached Chandler in every sport through elementary and middle school.

His mother said seeing Chandler sign was seeing all her dreams come true, and his brother said their rough play in the back yard as youngsters had a purpose.

“I’m pretty excited,” Jordan Jenkins said. “All those years being hard on him and making him cry paid off. It made him competitive.”

Also in attendance were Liberty football coach Steve Valach, athletic director Stark Porter, former coach Ken Burns, and numerous teammates and other school staff members. They took turns shaking Chandler’s hand and giving him words of encouragement.

“I’m really proud of him,” Valach said. “He’s going to be around excellent people. He’s going to be playing in bowl games.”

Valach said Chandler’s signing has now made him a fan of Air Force.

“I’m a Falcon, absolutely,” Valach said with a laugh.

Burns — who coached Jenkins from second grade through high school — said Chandler has a perfect opportunity in attending Air Force.

“You couldn’t give him a better launch pad,” he said. “The same things he used to get into Air Force are the same things he could use to get into IBM or politics.

“This is one seed we’ve planted that has flowered,” Burns said.

In the 2009 season, Jenkins led the Patriots in rushing and total yardage, racking up 1,345 yards rushing, 762 yards receiving and a team-leading 22 total touchdowns, helping his team advance to the 3A state championship game, which the Patriots lost to division rival Bellevue Wolverines, 23-17.

During his senior season, he recorded a whopping 1,795 rushing yards, 439 receiving yards and 286 kickoff return yards, for an average of nearly 36 yards per return, and three interceptions.

Jenkins will play on the academy’s prep team his freshman year, to participate in a junior college league to develop his skills.

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