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Arizona running back Daniel Jenkins ends spring on a high note

Daniel Jenkins

Daniel Jenkins takes a handoff from Matt Scott in the spring game. Photo by Deirdre Hamill/The Arizona Republic

Arizona Wildcats running back Daniel Jenkins injured his hamstring in the team’s second scrimmage and he came off the field, yelling, slamming his hands against the fence surrounding the practice field.

Not again?

Jenkins was making a move up the depth chart in fall camp last year before suffering a sprained ankle in a scrimmage.

The injury lingered into the season, and he ended up with only seven carries through the first half of the schedule. He finished the year with 31 rushes for 176 yards and two touchdowns.

Jenkins, a junior, once again looked good this spring — he’s quick and often darts past defenders — giving every indication of being the tag-team tailback partner of sophomore Ka’Deem Carey for new coach Rich Rodriguez.

And then, the hamstring injury on March 31.

He didn’t want that to be the end of his spring, which is why he said it was so important for him emotionally to be able to play in Saturday’s spring game at Kino Stadium. He rushed five times for 30 yards, 23 of which came on a touchdown run (which you can see, starting at about 3:53 of the video below).

“It’s not 100 percent, but it’s good enough, and I wanted to complete the spring,” he said of the hamstring injury.

“I was kind of disappointed two weeks ago when I tweaked the hamstring, but I was in treatment three times a day, trying to get it right to prepare myself to play. I was glad I was able to come out here and give a good performance.”

The running back position is one that Rodriguez talked positively about in the spring because of the potential of the top runners, its depth and its versatility. Taimi Tutogi and Greg Nwoko fill big-back roles at fullback or tailback, and Kylan Butler and Jared Baker showed some flashes behind Carey and Jenkins.

Jenkins can head into summer workouts with a clear head after getting back onto the field. That put him in a good frame of mind, heading into what might not be pleasant offseason training.

“With weight training, I knew Coach Rod demanded a high level of intensity,” Jenkins said. “The strength and conditioning staff at Arizona right now, they’re on another level. I’ve never seen anything like it before.

“This spring, the workouts felt like the workouts used to feel in the summer. So, I’m interested to see how the summer workouts are going to be. It’s going to be a challenge, but I think we’re all looking forward to it.”

CREDIT: Arizona Athletics
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