A.J. Jenkins is a man of many aliases, but he can blame the Bay Area media for reviving his “E.T.” nickname.
The 49ers first-round pick, who is just days away from graduating at Illinois, earned the moniker in high school due to his long fingers. Up until he spoke to local 49ers reporters, “E.T.” had since been replaced by another nickname he received in college.
“That name kind of faded until it came back up,” Jenkins said during a Thursday radio interview with Jim Rome. “It is what it is. You can call me A.J. or you can call me Stank – that’s what they called me back up north in Illinois. It doesn’t matter.”
Jenkins won’t be able to join the 49ers until he graduates on May 13, the final day of rookie mini-camp, but said he is looking forward to working with Jim Harbaugh. The 49ers head coach and John Morton, the team’s wide receivers coach, clicked with Jenkins during his pre-draft visit and have him excited for his rookie season.
“He’s a real intense guy,” Jenkins said of Harbaugh. “He’s real passionate and you can tell that by the way he talks and the way he carries himself. I can play for a coach like that – with passion and love for the game – because that’s the kind of guy I am.”
While he was drafted in the first round, Jenkins wasn’t in New York City to shake Commissioner Roger Goodell’s hand. Listening to the Jacksonville, Fla., native, it seems he was just fine watching from home.
“I was home with my family,” Jenkins said. “I was just trying to be with the people who were with me throughout this whole process – me going through college, me going through high school. I wanted to be home with them to bring in another journey of my life.”
And of course Jenkins had to recount his humorous draft day story to Rome. Earlier in the draft, Jenkins’ cousin had prank called him, pretending to be an NFL team. So when his cousin told him someone was on the phone again, Jenkins wasn’t buying it.
“San Francisco was calling me and I was in the bathroom,” Jenkins said. “My cousin was running to the bathroom with my phone, but I didn’t open the door for him because I thought he was just joking again. So he literally kicked the door down – I don’t know how he did it – but he kicked the door down and tossed me the phone.”
After he wraps up his college degree, Jenkins will be headed westbound. Once he gets to the Bay Area, Jenkins will be added to a talented crop of 49ers wide receivers that includes Michael Crabtree, Randy Moss, Mario Manningham, Ted Ginn Jr., Kyle Williams and others.
“I am going there to compete,” Jenkins said. “But at the same time … I’m going to try to learn from all of those guys to make my game better.”
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