James "J.J." Jenkins likes the incredible desire that Scott Frost showcased as a college quarterback and an NFL defensive player.
Photo by None

5-Year-Old Californian Became Frost Fan for Life

By Randy York

Frost Named National Football Coach of the Year

Twenty years ago, the day after Scott Frost and Nebraska manhandled Peyton Manning and Tennessee 42-17 in the Orange Bowl, a 5-year-old boy living in Thousand Oaks, Calif., wanted to write a note to Frost so he could get an autograph from his favorite hero.

Meet James Jenkins (above right), also known as J.J. Twenty years ago, J.J. listened carefully to Stuart Jenkins, his dad, who had ranched with his brother in spacious Custer County near Broken Bow, Neb.

Immersed in Nebraska’s fifth national championship football team, “J.J. absolutely loved Scott Frost,” said Stuart, a former University of Nebraska cross-country runner who wanted to teach his son about an important fact – if you write certain people, no matter how important they are, most will write back."

Now working for Apple in the Bay Area, J.J. did what his dad recommended and the pictures below are worth a thousand words. “Scott Frost wrote right back to me, and you can tell what kind of impact that had on me,” J.J. told me.

When Scott Frost Played in New York, J.J. Jenkins Tuned into Every Jets’ Game

“I don't remember much about the letter,” said J.J. (above left/right). “But I do recall being amazed that someone I admired more than anyone else taking the time to send a letter to me. It made such an impression on me that, even as Husker Nation moved on in awe of (Heisman Trophy winner) Eric Crouch, I became a Scott Frost fan favorite for life.”

Call it true passion at first sight. “When Scott played for New York, I tuned into Jets’ games just to watch Frost return kickoffs and punts and play special teams,” J.J. pointed out. "Even though he grew up, J.J. kept his Scott Frost poster and accompanying photo hung up in his room. I had mostly lost track of Scott.

“That was until I watched Boise State upset Oregon in 2009,” J.J. said. “After LeGarrette Blount sucker punched a Boise State player, then attempted to get into another fight with a fan, Scott Frost appeared, seemingly out of nowhere, to restrain Blount and de-escalate the situation. To me, that YouTube video says a lot about Scott Frost. It demonstrates, at least in part, why he appears to be not only a good coach, but exactly the kind of leader Husker fans want running our program.”

Because of Frost’s Football Career, J.J.’s Favorite Number Remains No. 7 for Life

After that game, even though J.J. (above left at age 5) had no love for Oregon, “I was always excited to see Scott Frost succeed,” he said. “I had a nagging sense that he'd end up as Nebraska's head coach at some point.”

“Twenty years after receiving that letter, I still look at the Scott Frost poster that's now followed me through at least seven moves,” J.J. said. “I can't help but be a bit emotional and grateful. To this day, I still marvel about a national champion quarterback taking the time to make a 5-year-old boy's day.”

Unfortunately, “we don't have the letter I sent and I don't recall anything specific that I wrote,” J.J. said. “I asked a few questions about what it was like to play college football for Nebraska. I also mentioned that because of Scott, 7 was my favorite number and I’m happy to say that it still is.” 

The last time J.J. saw Nebraska play in person was September 13, 2014, against Fresno State in California. “The Huskers won 55-19,” he remembers.

Yes, this Cal Poly San Luis Obispo graduate in Finance does not need his Apple computer to stay active and reinforce being a die-hard Husker fan.

National Coach of the Year Award Takes J.J. Back 20 Years When He Wrote His Letter

“I’m so excited that Scott will be honored as the 2017 National Coach of the Year Thursday night on national television,” J.J. said. “The whole experience takes me back 20 years. When I wrote that letter and got a response, it was a lifetime memory. Whenever my friends came over to my house, they wanted to talk about Scott Frost. We would look at the picture in the room and talk about him winning a national championship. Now, he could end up coaching the only unbeaten college team this season. He is so cool and has been my idol for two decades.

“A lot of my friends feel the same way,” J.J. said. “Scott hasn’t been in the national spotlight for a while, but he’s definitely there now. These last two seasons have been fun to watch – changing a 0-12 team he inherited to 6-6 and a bowl game and now the chance to play Auburn in the Peach Bowl in Atlanta – one of the greatest football facilities in America. I expect a lot of Husker fans rooting for Central Florida in January before Scott comes home to put Nebraska back on track.

“What Scott has done leading that team is amazing, and it’s not just Nebraska fans saying that,” J.J. said. “I have all kinds of friends in California. They come up and want to know more about Nebraska and Scott Frost. A lot of them are excited to see a program like Central Florida go unbeaten. I almost have to contain myself to tell them how excited I am about a bowl game that Nebraska isn’t even playing in this year. We’re Husker Nation proud, and Scott is doing the right thing for a team and the players he loves.”

What a winner. What a role model. What a man.

“My girlfriend makes fun of me,” J.J. confessed. “We’ve been dating for four years, and she still cracks up about how important every Saturday is for me. I make sure I game plan because every weekend I follow everything about Nebraska football religiously, and I’m pretty sure there are a lot of others out there who do the exact same thing.”

Small wonder why J.J.embraces the word DESIRE as the quentessential description for Scott Frost, his favorite player of all time. Why? Because most people wait for desire to happen. Some wish it would happen. And others, like Scott Frost, make it happen.  

Send a comment to ryork@huskers.com (Please include city, state)

Follow Randy on Twitter at www.twitter.com/RandyYorkNsider

Voices from Husker Nation

Great article. We truly need more stories like this. I have lived in the Washington D.C. area for 38 years and started rooting for Nebraska in 1980. In high school, my idle was Turner Gill because of the way he conducted himself on and off the field. I had a poster of Gill hanging in my locker at high school to remind me every day what 'doing the right thing' was all about. I always wanted to look in the mirror and be proud of myself for who I am. It is good to have people like Frost and Gill help guide us.

I think it’s the culture of Nebraska that personalities like Gill and Frost seem to be common. I am such a diehard Husker fan and always will be, although I am a George Mason Alumn. In fact, the license plates on my car are personalized and read 'A-Husker'. I became a fan not so much because of wins and losses but because of how Nebraska does things, always the right way.

This story represents what Nebraska is all about and what sports can and should be about. Kevin Foley Fairfax Virginia, Husker Pride Nation Wide!

Good article. I grew up in Omaha and J.J. has me beat. I went to my first Nebraska football game when I was eight years old. My early heroes were Bob Brown and Pat Fischer. Please ask J.J. Jenkins if he has anyone named Orlo Jenkins in his family tree. Who knows? We might be related. Steve Jenkins, Naples Florida

Loved your story on J.J. and I have to tell you that Scott Frost has another 5-year-old fan. My grandson, Cale, is also 5 years old, and he attended every home football game this year, plus more last season when he was 4. He was so excited when Scott became our head coach. He had been asking his dad every day if Scott was going to be the coach. He goes to games and never stops watching. He’s even all geared up for the Peach Bowl. He’s figured out what it takes to make a first down. It has been such a joy taking my six grandkids to Husker games. They range from five to 14-years old. Even though we were upset, it was especially great fun for our family at the Northern Illinois game because we had enough tickets for all of them to go at the same time, along with my two sons. I was betting that I was the only grandparent there with six grandkids. Glen Wiens, Hastings Nebraska

Even though I didn’t attend NU, I was always a fan of Husker football. Our son and grandson both played football and were fun to watch. When I married, we moved to California and many of my family followed.  We always got together on Thanksgiving and dinner always took a second place to football. We were a crazy bunch but had so much fun. Now I’m looking forward to those kind of Nebraska games again. Scott seems like my type of leader. He has a lot of heart and deeply cares about his team and the fans who fill up the stadium every home game. Like everyone else, I am eager to watch his team play in the Peach Bowl and after that, I can get excited again for fall to to come Lincoln. I just know that Scott will do a fantastic job. Like everyone else, I want to see Nebraska with a great team once again. God be with you Scott and I wish you the best. Go Big Red. Mona Groff, Hemet California

 

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