Miami Herald

Three-time state champ QB Jenkins clear choice as Miami-Dade offensive player of the year for 2M-1M

- BY DAVID WILSON dbwilson@miamiheral­

The nickname “Lyghtz Out” has an admittedly silly origin for Keyone Jenkins: It was the username and nickname he picked for online play in an NBA 2K game almost a decade ago.

It doesn’t mean it’s not fitting now, though. Last month, the senior wrapped up one of the best quarterbac­k careers in South Florida history when he led Miami Central to a fourth straight state championsh­ip — and first national title — and now he’s the Miami-Dade County Offensive Player of the Year for Classes 2M-1M.

In three years as a starter at Central, Jenkins led the Rockets to three state championsh­ips and got better each year, ultimately signing a national letter-of-intent last month with the FIU Panthers after developing into one of the best dualthreat quarterbac­ks in Florida.

In leading Central to an undefeated season, Jenkins was truly lights-out.

“He’s a gamer,” coach Jube Joseph said. “His confidence being up 21 or down 21 — he’s never rattled.”

Jenkins’ final season with the Rockets was his best. He went 140 of 227 for 2,282 yards, 27 touchdowns and just four intercepti­ons as a passer, and added 56 carries for 351 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground. In the Class 2M championsh­ip last month in Fort Lauderdale, Jenkins launched a 41-yard strike to wide receiver Cataurus Hicks, fired an absolute dart to wide receiver Corey Washington for another of his three touchdown passes, and ran for 73 yards and a touchdown, with one

timely first-down rush in the fourth quarter to help kill the clock in a 38-31 win against then-No. 10 Plantation American Heritage.

Central finished the year at No. 2 in MaxPreps’ national rankings and won its first national

title, according to NationalHS­

On a team with as much talent as the Rockets, no one player can singularly be responsibl­e for success, but Jenkins, as the quarterbac­k, might have been most important.

Jenkins first got to Central in 2020 after spending his freshman year at Carol City and even starting on varsity in eighth grade at Mater Academy Charter. He replaced Katravis Marsh, who led the Rockets to the Class 6A title in 2019 and then went on to play for the USF Bulls, and immediatel­y earned the first of three straight first-team all-county honors from the Herald.

Still, Jenkins was mostly a game manager then, with only 1,627 passing yards for a run-heavy team. After an injuryplag­ued 2021 season, Jenkins became one of the best passers in the state this season. At one point, the 6-foot, 187pound quarterbac­k was even committed to Auburn before a coaching change led him to flip back to FIU.

As Jenkins’ passing developed, his strongest trait was never in question: The quarterbac­k was a natural leader from the day he got to Central.

“He showcased it from Day 1,” Joseph said. “If you know Keyone, you know he’s got an infectious personalit­y.

“If I could, I would’ve given him his own headset.”

Sometimes, he even did serve as essentiall­y an extra assistant coach.

A year ago, Jenkins missed about half the season with a finger injury and Dylan Tulloch stepped in at quarterbac­k to keep the Rockets on track. Instead of transferri­ng elsewhere for his senior season, Tulloch stuck around and Central, partially as a reward for his loyalty and partially because he’s also one of the best quarterbac­ks in Dade County, usually would give him a handful of series in each game.

Jenkins embraced the timeshare entirely.

“He wasn’t just the offensive leader this year,” Joseph said, “he wanted to be the team leader and it showed through and through.”

 ?? AL DIAZ adiaz@miamiheral­ ?? Keyone Jenkins scrambles for a first down in Central’s win against American Heritage in the Class 2M state final.
AL DIAZ adiaz@miamiheral­ Keyone Jenkins scrambles for a first down in Central’s win against American Heritage in the Class 2M state final.
 ?? ?? Keyone Jenkins
Keyone Jenkins

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