They came here as top recruits and got their start as true freshmen under Al Golden. This season under Head Coach Mark Richt, they make up the veteran core of the Miami Hurricanes defense. Senior defensive backs Jamal Carter, Corn Elder and Rayshawn Jenkins are now preparing for their final three games as Canes.
“I guess it hasn’t hit me yet,” Jenkins said. “I just want to go into this game and play it the best I can. I’m not gonna overthink it.”
The trio has been a staple in the Miami defense for years and has taken on a significant leadership role as it has grown in experience. With a defense this season that has featured multiple freshmen, the seniors’ positions as leaders on the field have been that much more important and have paid dividends, despite the midseason struggles.
Jenkins came to Miami as a three-star recruit from St. Petersburg, Florida. He committed in 2011, turning down an offer from defensive powerhouse Alabama to come to the U. Jenkins has come into his own as a leader and credits his veteran counterparts for the progress the defense has made.
“Me, Corn Elder and Jamal Carter, I feel like we’ve really taken our roles and just, you know, kind of been those anchors of the defense,” Jenkins said.
Jamal Carter, a local four-star recruit, has a slightly different take on the final games of his college career.
“I’m trying to go all out for these,” Carter said.
Carter said that going out with a “bang” and continuing to be a role model for his younger teammates are his main goals as he approaches the end. He wants to finish strong and show the freshmen how to close out a season that may not have gone as well as the team wanted.
Elder, a frequent captain, is perhaps the most highly touted of the three for a professional future. With an NFL career likely ahead of him, his mantra for his last ride is to simply enjoy it.
“It’s been a fun four years, we just gotta end it out right,” Elder said.
Elder is not letting the emotions get to him and is more focused on making the last games count. As for his role in guiding his younger teammates, he always makes a point to let his actions speak louder than his words.
“Just try to lead by example,” Elder said. “It’s easier to talk about it, but actually doing it, that’s the best thing to do.”
Elder leads the team in tackles, and Jenkins leads the team in interceptions so far this season. Both hope that the example they’ve set this year leaves an impression on the rest of the defensive unit that will last even after they graduate.