San Francisco 49ers pull draft night shocker: Illini WR A.J. Jenkins

a.j. jenkins

The Seattle Seahawks made the first big shocker on NFL Draft night by taking Bruce Irvin DE/OLB from West Virginia. The San Francisco 49ers created another big surprise when they took WR A.J. Jenkins out of Illinois with the 30th pick. It marks the first time two Illini have been selected in the first round of an NFL draft since Kevin Hardy and Simeon Rice in 1996.

Illinois now has 5 first round picks in the last five years, the most in the Big Ten. That’s a very surprising stat isn’t?

The Niners defense was so strong last year, you knew they were going to go offense this draft. And now they have plenty of pass catchers: Mario Manningham, Vernon Davis, Randy Moss, Michael Crabtree etc.

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Illini Receiver A.J. Jenkins: Probably Best WR Weapon in Big Ten

Earlier this college football season, University of Illinois senior wide receiver A.J. Jenkins made some comments that proclaimed himself the best wide receiver in the Big Ten.

He has since backed off from those remarks, and now maintains a more standard, PR-friendly, humble and some could say vanilla manner in his on-the-record comments to the media. But his play on the field (third in the nation, first in the Big Ten in receiving yards) is making a loud and powerful statement.

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A.J. Jenkins Develops into Illini Go-to Receiver, Big Ten Star

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In the 2009 preseason, college football experts were proclaiming the Illinois Fighting Illini receiving corps to be the best in the Big Ten, and among the best in the nation.

Well, the Illini finished 10th in passing in the conference out of 11 teams and stumbled to a 3-9 record. So it’s safe to say that the WRs fell short of expectations.

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More Illinois Fighting Illini Named to College Football Award Watch Lists

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We already told you about QB Nathan Scheelhaase being named a candidate for the Maxwell Award, the most outstanding player in college football. But there’s more:

Illinois senior wide receiver A.J. Jenkins has been named a preseason candidate for the 2011 Biletnikoff Award, given annually to the nation’s most outstanding wide receiver by the Tallahassee Quarterback Club Foundation.

Jenkins led the Illini in receiving in 2010 with 56 catches for 746 yards and seven touchdowns. His seven touchdowns rank eighth on the UI single-season TD receptions list. Jenkins had two 100-yard games during his junior season, including a career-best 137-yard effort against the Minnesota Golden Gophers on Nov. 13.

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