Sterling Jenkins never was much of a football player until recently.
"I played in second grade and didn't play again until seventh grade. This is really the first year I'm steadily watching college football," Jenkins said. "I could never sit down and watch college football. Now, I'm fascinated by it."
That's good, because in two years he will be part of major-college football.
Jenkins is a teenage mountain, standing 6 feet 8, weighing 300 pounds and grabbing the attention of major-college coaches everywhere. Jenkins is a junior offensive tackle at Baldwin High School and likely will be the most-heavily recruited player in the WPIAL class of 2015, along with Central Valley defensive back Jordan Whitehead.
A few scouting services have ranked Jenkins among the top 100 players in the country for the class of 2015. He already has 13 scholarship offers from Division I colleges. You could call Jenkins a late bloomer. He is someone who started to catch up with his body in the past couple years.
Jenkins was 6-4, 220 in seventh grade, but he didn't even play "up" on the junior varsity or varsity as a freshman at Baldwin. He played on the ninth-grade team.
"I didn't think all of this [recruiting] would come at all," Jenkins said.
Jenkins has helped Baldwin to a 2-2 record. The Highlanders have a big game this week against Upper St. Clair (4-0), the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's No. 1-ranked WPIAL Class AAAA team.
Although his future is on the offensive line, Jenkins does play a little at nose tackle.
"You don't see a lineman with his size as flexible and as fluid as him," said Pete Wagner, Baldwin's first-year coach. "Like I've said before, he had a fantastic offseason and was committed to learning the game.
"Obviously, he's an enormous kid with a lot of athleticism who just committed to learning more about the game and who has improved week in and week out against not good, but great competition that we play."
Jenkins believes he has made the most improvement in the past year or so, just because he knows the game better.
"Something I'd like to improve on most is just my all-around football sense," he said. "There are some situations you can't really prepare for. It's not like I was raised a football fan. I don't have that inherited football instinct."
Although Jenkins doesn't see himself making a college decision until his senior year, he said he does have six favorite schools: Pitt, Penn State, Michigan, Ohio State, Tennessee and Mississippi. All have offered scholarships.
But LSU and Alabama also are showing interest, and those two schools also intrigue Jenkins, even though they haven't offered scholarships yet.
"Maybe the team I watch the most is Michigan," Jenkins said. "Either Michigan or the schools that are recruiting me the most. But I like watching maybe LSU or Alabama, too."
• Kiana Law, a 6-1 forward on the Central Valley girls basketball team, committed to Missouri-Kansas City, an NCAA Division I school in the Western Athletic Conference.
• Central Valley 6-7 center Matt Kline committed to the Seton Hill men's team.
• Ryan Maha, a 6-1 all-section guard at West Mifflin, committed to Carnegie Mellon. He averaged 17 points a game last season.hsfootball