Detroit Compuware's Blade Jenkins (photo courtesy of the Jenkins family)
Does that make you feel old? Blade Jenkins is a high-scoring center for Detroit Compuware and the Grade 8 student already knows where he wants to play his college hockey.
Do you remember what you were doing in the year 2000? It doesn't seem that long ago, but the news that Detroit Compuware center Blade Jenkins has committed to the University of Michigan may change that thought.
See, Jenkins was born in the year 2000, but the eighth grader has already verbally committed to play for the Wolverines in the future.
"Blade has always been a Michigan fan," said his father, Todd. "It's just a great opportunity. A full-ride scholarship was on the table."
Todd Jenkins coaches Blade with Compuware's under-15 squad, which is for 1999 birthdays. Blade has always played a year up and currently leads the team with 81 points in 48 games. While Todd knows the perception of bias a dad will have with his son, he likes the development path that Blade is on.
"He has great hands, good anticipation and hockey sense – some things you can't teach," Todd said. "He sees the ice well and moves the puck."
Some of the players Jenkins coached in the past include Austin Watson, Jared Knight and Jason Zucker, so he knows talent when he sees it. And Todd himself had a distinguished college career, playing under legendary coach Shawn Walsh at the University of Maine. Coincidentally, one of Jenkins' teammates with the Black Bears was Joakim Wahlstrom, whose son Oliver made headlines this time last year when he committed to Maine as a 13-year-old (he is currently destroying the competition while playing for Shattuck-St. Mary's, the prep school in Minnesota that spawned Sidney Crosby and Jonathan Toews).
While it seems a little crazy for a 14-year-old to be choosing universities before he gets to high school, there is some logic behind the call. NCAA rules forbid coaches from contacting players after the midway point of their sophomore high school season, so long-term planning is not a bad idea.
Whether or not that rule needs to be loosened up is another question, but for now the Jenkins family couldn't be happier with Blade's future in Maize and Blue.