Winona State was the first college football program to show interest in Batavia defensive lineman Marquise Jenkins, beginning an aggressive pursuit last summer and keeping close tabs on Jenkins throughout his senior season.
On Sunday night, Jenkins rewarded that loyalty, informing co-defensive coordinator David Braun that he planned to be a Warrior.
The 6-foot-4, 215-pound Jenkins listened to interest from other programs, including Illinois State, Ferris State and Northern Michigan, but said “it was difficult, especially when you have your heart set on one school.”
That school was Winona State, a Division II program located in Winona, Minn.
“The coaches feel I could be a difference-maker for the team because they’re losing two key D-ends that started this year,” Jenkins said. “I hope that I can come in, work hard, learn the system, get it down pat and come in and be a difference-maker for the team, and go in and help build up the program even more than it already is, and start competing for those national championships, those playoff berths.”
Jenkins made three trips to Winona State, most recently for an official visit last weekend. His uncle, Marcus Holland, with whom Jenkins is close, accompanied him on the trip.
“We had a heart-to-heart driving back from the school,” Jenkins said. “I asked him how he felt about the school and how he felt if I went up there. You always know your parents’ opinion is of the utmost [importance], more than anyone else’s, coaches, friends, anything. A parent’s opinion is what matters most. When he told me ‘that school seems like a great fit for you,’ it was a no-brainer.”
Jenkins was a Chronicle First-Team All-Area defensive player this season. The explosive, speed rusher collected 9 1/2 sacks on the season, and his clean but jarring hit knocked Geneva quarterback Daniel Santacaterina (broken clavicle) out for the season in Week 3.
Jenkins plans to compete again this spring in track and field for coach Dennis Piron, who is also the Bulldogs’ football coach. Jenkins credited Piron for mentoring him the past couple years.
“If we didn’t have him, or I didn’t have him, I don’t know where I’d be going or if I’d even be playing college football,” said Jenkins, who plans to major in criminal justice.
Winona State has a strong Illinois presence on its roster, including sophomore wide receiver Josh Mikes, a St. Charles North product. The Warriors are coming off a 10-2 season.