Royal's Kaden Jenks still an inspiration to those around him

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Rodney Harwood

Football at its highest level is such a violent collision that it’s not so much if a player will be injured as to when that injury will happen. Former Royal star Kaden Jenks fell victim to a horrendous hit while he was trying to make a 6-yard run during Weber State’s 34-24 victory over Montana State. Jenks had already gone through the emotional ups and downs of NCAA Division I FCS football when he made the start at quarterback in Weber’s season opener against Utah. It was short-lived in that he underwent concussion protocol and eventually lost his starting job to Jake Constantine. But things were on the upswing when Jenks returned to the field, a chance to prove himself one more time that he was the guy. Anybody from the Royal Slope or anybody that’s ever been on the receiving end of a Kaden Jenks run, friend or foe, knows he’s a big guy with a competitive spirit and bringing him to the ground is no easy task. The WHEN in big-time college football happened to Jenks with 42 seconds remaining in the first half when he was tackled by Tyrone Fa’anono and others at the end of a 6-yard run. They call it a Marc Mariani-type injury, let’s just say the toes were going the wrong way when it was all said and done. But what happened next tells you a little something about what Brandon Jenks’ boy Kaden is all about. In the Missoulian, sports writer Greg Rachac quoted Weber State head coach Jay Hill saying, "Kaden Jenks is such a tough guy and such a loved guy on our football team," Hill said in comments provided by the Standard-Examiner newspaper. "When they (set) that ankle back into place, he said 'Tape it up and let me go back in there.' I'm like, ‘Just calm down a little bit.’ But that's the toughness that can rally a football team. “Our team got in a huddle and I heard them say it: 'We're going to go win this for Kaden.' That's what you want to see on a football team is to bind together over something like that." I’ve never been in the huddle with Kaden Jenks, never looked into those fiery, competitive eyes. But I have no doubt that guys like Angel Farias, Alonso Hernandez and the rest of the guys that wear Black and Gold with honor and pride have. What makes Kaden Jenks who he is is his faith and that those strong virtues and family ties mean something. When I watched his senior season, he was the closest thing to a young John Elway or Brett Favre I might ever see. He was a man among boys, but what makes him the man he is today is that he never sacrificed his principles to get there. This is not one of those “rub a little dirt on it,” moments your grandpa talked about when ya got beaned by a 7-year-old, left-hander in Little League. It’s a serious injury and our thoughts and prayers go out to him and his family during the recuperation and the long road back. I talked with Brandon the other day and he said the surgery went well and the healing process is underway. I don’t have a snappy cliche to fall back on, but I do know that Kaden Jenks is a man of integrity and honor and will stand tall in whatever he puts his efforts into, and we wish him well in his efforts.

Rodney Harwood is a sports writer for the Columbia Basin Herald and writes a weekly column for the Sun Tribune. He can be reached at rharwood@columbiabasinherald.com

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