Walker moves third-string QB to NU running back rotation

Jim Martinho

Northwestern’s quarterback derby lost a horse last week when coach Randy Walker moved sophomore Derell Jenkins to running back.

Walker said the decision was motivated by the difficulty in finding practice time for his three young quarterbacks. Likely starter Brett Basanez, a redshirt sophomore, has taken most of the snaps, and redshirt freshman Alexander Webb has made good progress after missing nearly all of last season.

“It’s hard to get three guys work at quarterback, and Webb needs every snap,” Walker said. “So what do you do? He’s a pretty good runner, so we decided to keep him on the offensive side of the ball.”

Jenkins did not complete a pass in five attempts and ran for 49 yards in two games last season after injuries to Webb and Basanez forced him into action, costing him his redshirt season. Jenkins could still move back to quarterback, Walker said.

The 6-foot-1, 190-pounder will join a running back corps that includes returners Jason Wright, Noah Herron and sophomore Terell Jordan, who played mostly on special teams in 2002.

“He has a good hold of the physicality of the position already, and he has great instincts,” Wright said.

Walker joked that defensive players hesitated to hit Jenkins in his first action at running back because they were used to him wearing a green, no-contact jersey.

Webb and Jenkins both ran 40-yard dashes in 4.5 seconds at the Cats’ pro timing day to start spring practice. Walker said Jenkins also has seen some time on special teams this spring.

Walker said the team has discussed redshirting Jenkins this season, but would rather keep a player with his speed on the field.