Jinkens looks to impress during senior season

Nick Castillo

Peter Jinkens read the play perfectly, held his ground and slung TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin to the ground.

Jinkens — a 6-foot, 230-pound senior strong side linebacker from Dallas — appeared to set the tone of the game with a tackle on third and one during TCU’s opening drive. But his tackle soon faded to the background of the 50-7 loss to the Horned Frogs on Oct. 3.

Much like the tackle, Jinkens’ performance this season has fallen to the shadows behind the hype surrounding freshman linebacker Malik Jefferson. It’s a rarity to see a senior lurking in the shadow of a freshman, though Jinkens does just that. Jefferson earned National Player of the Week honors after Texas’ 24-17 win over Oklahoma, but Jinkens leads the Longhorns with 48 tackles.

Although Jinkens may not be in the limelight like Jefferson, he attributes his success this season to his teammates and coaches.

“[My teammates and coaches have] just put me in the right place,” Jinkens said. “They know my strengths and weaknesses, so they put me in the right situations, so where I can utilize my strengths to make plays.”

Texas head coach Charlie Strong said he enjoys watching Jinkens’ and Jefferson’s performances this season. He’s also enjoying watching Jinkens’ breakout season.

“You look at two guys who are doing very well,” Strong said. “They’re playing off one another. … Pete [Jinkens] can kind of sit back, and where Pete’s done a great job is just attacking and making a lot of plays. I’m happy for him just to see him having the year up to right now the way he’s playing.”

Before 2015, Jinkens had played in 39 games and started 11. He’s had an up-and-down career at Texas. As a freshman, he recorded 29 tackles and one interception. He showed vast improvement as a sophomore with 49 tackles and a forced fumble. But he saw his production drop last season, recording a career-low 27 tackles.

After a rough junior year, Jinkens committed to spending extra time watching film and getting help from his coaches. Jinkens said he wants to make the best of his senior season.

“I feel like I’m more hungry,” Jinkens said. “It’s my last year, so I just want to make an impression.”

Jinkens’ teammates have noticed his newfound focus and have been impressed with his performance thus far.

“Peter has always been a fiery kind of guy,” senior cornerback Duke Thomas said. “He’s worked really hard this offseason to really up his mental part of the game. We had [Jordan] Hicks in our [locker] room last year, and he really had the bulk of that. Peter really did a great job moving forward and taking more of the mental aspect of the game more serious. You can see the year he’s
been having.”

While Jinkens hasn’t been in the spotlight as much as his linebacker counterpart, he still relishes the opportunity to make plays.