Jenkins overcoming arthritis, ready to contribute

by - Staff Writer -
It took almost six months to get a positive diagnosis and the correct medication to treat Martin Jenkins' arthritis.

CLEMSON – Every day is part of a process for the Clemson Tigers, but nobody has taken a longer road to the field than Martin JenkinsMartin Jenkins
RS Jr. Cornerback
#14 5-10, 180
Roswell, GA

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, and after battling injuries for the better part of a year, he is ready to help the Tigers accomplish all of their goals.

The junior defensive back splashed on the scene in 2011, making play after play against Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship Game, but was sidelined with a groin injury for the entire 2012 season.

After recovering from groin surgery last August, Jenkins finally saw the light at the end of the tunnel when he was released by team doctors to participate in winter conditioning drills, but unfortunately, Jenkins would have one more bout with doctors after the sudden onset of severe pain and an eventual diagnosis of a genetic arthritis condition.

“In February, I was full go during the All-In Drills and then in March the arthritis started to kick in,” Jenkins said after Thursday’s practice. “I was feeling great in February. I’m like, ‘Okay, I’m back. Let’s train. Let’s do this.’ And, then boom I get hit with the arthritis and I could hardly move.”

It would take almost six months to get a positive diagnosis and the correct medication to treat the arthritis.

“I knew it was a serious problem around March and I went to [head athletic trainer] Danny Poole,” Jenkins said. “We kind of figured it out after he put two-and-two together and he sent me to a rheumatologist, and that’s how they fully diagnosed me. I’ve only started feeling better within the last couple of weeks. The medication is definitely helping. They said that it would take two to three months to fully kick in and I’ve been on it for about two weeks. I can already feel the effects.”

During the time before the diagnosis, Jenkins said that he was in the most pain he has ever experienced.

“Unexplainable. It was the most pain that I have ever felt in my life,” he said. “There were some nights that I couldn’t even get out of bed to just stand up and go to the bathroom. I felt it last year, but it was in my groin area. Now it’s in my back area and in my pelvis.”

The pain, however, didn’t stop him from wanting to battle the heat during summer workouts with his teammates.

“I haven’t really been doing any complaining,” he said. “When you have to sit out, you have a change of perspective. Even in the summer time, I wasn’t able to run or do a lot of the drills and a lot of the guys were saying that they were tired and didn’t want to do it, but I just told them that they were blessed to just be out there, I wish I had that chance. Fall camp has been tough. I have still been battling injury, but it feels good.”

Now that Jenkins is healthy and relatively pain free, the thoughts of taking the field against Georgia are keeping him awake at night.

“I can’t even put it into words. I’ve been so excited. Even last night, I just stayed up in my bed just thinking about it,” he said. “I’m finally getting to play. This is a childhood dream of mine. I’m from Georgia and I know a lot the players. Personally, they didn’t really like to recruit me. I liked the school, but they didn’t really come after me so I’ve got a chip on my shoulder from that.”

Sitting out the 2012 season gave Jenkins a new perspective and knowledge of the game, something he hopes will help him when he takes the field on August 31st.

“It’s definitely going to be special. Last season humbled me a lot and made me appreciate the game more,” he said. “Before, I appreciated it – I’ve been playing the game since age 13 – but it gave me a whole different perspective of the game. Last year I almost felt like a coach, even though I wasn’t coaching, but I was observing – ‘I see this play and they are playing like this.’ I got a better grasp of the game just from standing back and watching and now I’m able to go out there and play.”

Although Jenkins hasn’t played a meaningful snap of football since the Orange Bowl, that isn’t stopping him from setting lofty goals for himself.

“I don’t believe in being realistic,” he said. “One of the quotes that I like to live by is, ‘Being realistic is the most commonly traveled goal to mediocrity.’ My goal is to win the Thorpe Award and be the number one defensive back in the nation. You can call me crazy, but I strive to be the best and nothing less than that.”

However, he knows that achieving his goal – just like recovering from his injuries - won’t be easy, and he says he thinks he has certain inherent traits that have made it easier to overcome the pain and achieve those goals.

“I was blessed with quickness and speed, but I think my tenaciousness and I’m very versatile,” he said. “I just like to compete. I’ve been undersized during my whole football career. I know that I have to make up for that some how. I have to be faster then them. I have to hit harder. I have to try harder. Even in high school, I had that mentality.”

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