Prairie Ridge Jeff Jenkins celebrates with fans after the Wolves' 28-21 win over Nazareth Academy at the Class 6A state championship in Nov. 2017.
Prairie Ridge Jeff Jenkins celebrates with fans after the Wolves' 28-21 win over Nazareth Academy at the Class 6A state championship in Nov. 2017. — Shaw Media file photo

Jeff Jenkins no longer will play football at Iowa.

Jenkins, who was the Hawkeyes’ backup center last season as a redshirt freshman, announced via Twitter on Thursday, “Excited to start this next chapter of my life!”

The 2018 Prairie Ridge graduate said Friday he is not sure what that chapter will entail but is certain it no longer will involve Iowa football.

Jenkins’ return to Twitter on Thursday signified he had left the Hawkeyes. Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz has a strict no-Twitter policy for his players.

“That’s going to be over with,” Jenkins said. “I have a couple weeks here where I have to make a lot of decisions on what I want to do. I really don’t know what that’s going to be yet. There’s a possibility I’ll go somewhere else and play football. There’s also a good possibility that I say, ‘I’ve had enough. I lived out my dream of playing college football, and I want to move on with my life.’”

Jenkins (6-foot-3, 266 pounds) was a three-time Northwest Herald All-Area first-team selection as an offensive lineman. He was one of five, four-year varsity players and the leader on the offensive line for the Wolves’ Class 6A state championship teams in 2016 and 2017.

Jenkins went to Iowa on a football scholarship with former Wolves quarterback Samson Evans, the only player to be named Northwest Herald Football Player of the Year three times. Evans was a redshirt freshman running back in 2019.

As backup center, Jenkins played in two games and traveled with the team to every game. The decision was something Jenkins had been mulling for a while. He told the Iowa coaches two weeks ago and is not enrolled this semester at Iowa.

Jenkins is living in Iowa City and working at a construction company where a friend’s father is a foreman.

“There’s a lot of different factors that go into it,” Jenkins said. “It wasn’t just something that, after our bowl game, I was going to make this decision. There’s a lot of things. It’s hard to do, the mental side, the football side, school, having a social life.”

Although Jenkins did not suffer any debilitating injuries in high school or college, he still feels the wear and tear.

“I wake up and my back hurts, my neck … I can’t move my neck some mornings,” he said. “Your knees never feel good. The whole head thing has become a really big thing. Is it really worth it playing football anymore if you don’t necessarily love playing football and you don’t have your heart in it? Is it really worth it?”

So Jenkins is taking a break, working and considering whether he wants to give football a shot at another school. If he decides to make a return, he can sign up on the NCAA transfer portal, where prospective schools can contact him about transferring.

“You have to want to play football,” Jenkins said. “That’s the big thing. It’s hard to play Division I football at this high of a level if your heart’s not in it anymore and your head’s not in it. I have to sit down with my dad (John) and talk to him about it. There’s definitely a lot of different roads I could go at this point in my life. We’ll see what happens.”