Jenkins signing

Millbrook High School baseball standout Jerrod Jenkins, flanked by his parents Scott and Jennifer, poses after signing a National Letter of Intent on Friday to play for Dallas Baptist University.

Baseball runs deep in Jerrod Jenkins’ family.

And now the Millbrook High School right-hander is following a similar path that took his father Scott to professional baseball.

Jerrod signed a National Letter of Intent on Friday and will be heading to Dallas Baptist University, one of the most successful Division I programs in the country. In their last seven full seasons, the Patriots have won at least 40 games and came within a Super Regional win against Virginia last season of making the College World Series.

“It feels amazing to have the chance to play at the next level,” Jenkins said in a phone interview last week. “Hopefully, I will play beyond that. I am very humbled to have the opportunity, for God to allow me to be here, my coaches, parents, friends, family, everyone who has inspired me and taught me life lessons along the way of the journey through this process.”

Scott was raised in Texas and played college baseball at TCU in the early 1990’s. He was later drafted by the Kansas City Royals and played in the minors before become a minor-league pitching coach. He moved on to become the pitching coach and recruiting coordinator at Vermont before the school dropped the program.

Scott, who was transferred to this area while working for the adidas group, said he and Jerrod sat down a couple of years ago to put together a wish list for Jerrod’s college future. The things that meant the most were: playing for a school in the South, playing for a program that was competitive enough to turn out pro prospects and one that played a very competitive schedule.

“Dallas Baptist pretty much fit all of the criteria,” Scott said.

The Patriots, who play in the Missouri Valley Conference, had five players drafted this past summer, including a third-round pick. They play in a competitive conference and this season’s non-league schedule features opponents like Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, Texas Tech and Maryland.

Jenkins, who said he will receive a scholarship that covers about 70 percent of his costs, had several Division I schools interested, including Abilene Christian, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Old Dominion and Virginia Commonwealth.

In the end, Dallas Baptist won out thanks in a big part to head coach Dan Heefer, who is 526-271 in 14 seasons there and pitching coach Micah Posey, who will be in his second year at the school having coached at both East Tennessee State and Elon. Under Posey’s tutelage, 21 players have been either drafted or signed pro contracts.

“It had to do with the staff there,” Jerrod said of his decision. “Micah Posey is a great, great pitching coach. He is one of the main reasons I went there. The head coach is also a great dude … and really humble. I just love the coaching staff. The past seven [full] years, they’re the only team to have won 40 games. That shows their program is going pretty well.”

Jenkins said Dallas Baptist reached out to him this past summer.

“I was playing a baseball tournament down in Georgia,” Jerrod said. “They saw me on Twitter where PBR (Prep Baseball Report) posted me. They came to my next outing. I pitched and they fell in love with me. They called me after the game and were really interested and offered me.

“The rest is history. I followed up with them and got to go out and see the school. After that, I just knew that was where I wanted to play. The stadium, the school and the environment, it was just beautiful.”

Millbrook coach Brian Burke, who formed a bond with Jerrod and Scott (now an assistant coach on the Pioneers’ staff) early, is happy to see the senior land at a big program.

“We made the connection with Jerrod just after he turned 10 or 11 years,” Burke said. “To see his growth, this is such an awesome opportunity to go showcase his abilities. I know he’s always had the dream to do it. He’s certainly put in the work to get to where he is in his pitching career.”

Jenkins went 4-2 for the Class 4 Northwestern District regular-season champions last spring, sporting a 1.11 ERA. With a blazing fastball and a knee-buckling curve, Jenkins led the area with 67 strikeouts in 44 innings.

What has made Jerrod a Division I pitcher?

“I think it’s work ethic,” Burke said. “I think he’s had some excellent coaching along the way that has nothing to do with me. His dad having a pitching background and knowing the right things to do and the ability to be open to work with his son and challenge Jerrod. Sometimes those relationships don’t work out very well because you tend to listen to everybody but your dad.”

Scott said the father-son dynamics aren’t always easy.

“I’m extremely proud of him,” Scott said. “He’s put in all of the work. It’s hard as a parent to coach your son. Sometimes you have to let the other coaches do the yelling and the screaming. You have to be the builder, instead of the guy who tears him down. He’s kind of learned to listen to what I say and not how I say it. That’s a compliment to his maturity.”

Jerrod is undecided on his college major right now, but is looking forward to getting to Dallas Baptist. From a hill on campus, you can see the homes of the Dallas Cowboys and Texas Rangers and the Dallas skyline. Jerrod says he likes being on the outskirts of the city.

Posey has given Jerrod a workout regimen intended from bumping his fastball from the 91-92 mph range to 94 or 95 mph. Jerrod is also adding a changeup to his repertoire.

Jerrod, a switch-hitter who also caught for the Pioneers last season, hopes to bring more velocity and his new pitch to the mound this spring for his senior season.

“I’m really looking forward to playing my last season with my friends, hopefully making it far as last year and even farther,” he said. “I’d like to go a little bit farther this year and help my team any way I can. It would always be a good way to end it with a state championship.”

— Contact Walt Moody at

wmoody@winchesterstar.com

Follow on Twitter @WinStarSports1

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