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Chasing the Arena Dream: Josh Jenkins, Defensive Back, Orlando Predators

Updated at Mar 13, 2024

Josh Jenkins has been a fixture in the Orlando Predators' defensive secondary for years. He looks ready to lead them into the 2024 Arena Football Season as they chase AFL success.

"I think every year you should be going in with a championship mindset."

Joshua Jenkins has been playing football professionally for the better part of the last 10 years. With the experience he has culminated and the dues that he has paid, he is ready for a shot at the ArenaBowl. Jenkins has put up elite numbers for the Predators in the last few seasons, and the success should continue. Additionally, the ball-hawking safety should fall into a key leadership role for the Orlando defense. He is a faithful face for the Orlando Predators fans, and with a familiar coaching staff, he is looking to be a show out across the league.

The Journey

Jenkins started with success predating his college career. From 2009-2012, he attended De La Salle High School. As a wide receiver and cornerback, he helped De La Salle win back-to-back-to-back state championships and eventually committed to Army. His tenure at West Point lasted two years, from 2013-2014. He earned himself a starting spot from his first game and went on to start all 24 games at cornerback. He ended up leaving West Point early to pursue football, and although there were many talks with the NFL, nothing came to fruition. So, he made his first leap into professional football with the Green Bay Blizzard of the Indoor Football League.

The years would include stops with the Green Bay Blizzards, Arizona Hotshots, D.C. Defenders, and the Canadian Football League. That was until Jenkins made it to Orlando in 2021. His first season with the Predators marked an uptick in his production. By the end of that 2021-2022 season of the National Arena League, Jenkins was second overall in tackles with 60 and third overall in interceptions with 5. He would continue his success the following season, finishing fourth in tackles (40) and fourth in interceptions (6).

With a landscape as volatile and ever-changing as professional football, it is hard for players to make a home with one team. With trades, cuts, and different opportunities, fan bases do not always have faithful players to root for. Luckily for Predators fans, Jenkins has found a home with the defense in Orlando and the AFL. One of his favorite parts of the league is how challenging it is to be a cornerback or receiver. With the unique rules surrounding wide receivers, any play could be a big play, and that, Jenkins says, is what keeps him coming back for more.

“I love it here. I’m gonna stay here and keep balling.”

Expectations

"I think championship game or bust would be how a lot of people see this year.”

When it comes to his season, he has expectations of being elite, and for good reason. Jenkins has been a consistent top-five defensive back for the last several years. Although he is getting older, he continues to perform and believes he has been improving the way he prepares his body for the season. Like most, Jenkins has battled injury throughout his career, but going into this preseason, he seems to be in better physical condition than he was in the previous seasons. He says the aches and pains that once plagued him are subsiding, and he is hitting his strides in training ahead of previous schedules.

“Looking at the roster, I think I would be naive to think there isn’t pressure on us to produce this year.”

When it comes to the Predators, Jenkins has high aspirations for this season, but so does the rest of the league. With the batch of returners and key additions, it’s easy to say that this team should be great. Jenkins himself boasts names like Clarence Williams and Drew Powell. Williams is a key returner and an MVP-caliber receiver. His abilities can only be exponentially boosted by the arrival of Drew Powell. Powell is a quarterback with a shiny track record. He is a true dual-threat quarterback with three league MVPs and a 31-5 regular season record.

Captaining the Defense

Jenkins has captained this defense before, and the defensive coordinator he was a captain under, E.J. Burt, is now moving into the head coaching spot. As of now, there has not been a new hire announced as a defensive coordinator, so it is likely that Burt will still be managing the defense. Considering that Burt’s new responsibilities may stretch his defensive abilities thin, Jenkins will play a big role in the execution of the defense this coming season. There will be many young guys coming into the Predators organization, and with Jenkins's experience, he will likely be working side-by-side with the DB coach, Kenton Rickerson, to get guys ready. So, the overall compatibility of Jenkins with the returning staff will likely catapult him into an elevated leadership role.

“I think we’re everybody’s headache, as usual.”

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