Nashua’s Jenkins looking to make history at Shrine Game

Nashua's RJ Jenkins, Christina Juras and Milford's Owen Clary at the Shrine Game.

RJ Jenkins has always considered himself a bit of a trail blazer.

In high school, even the most versatile athletes play three sports. At Nashua North High School Jenkins played four.

In his college choice, he decided on the University of New England, as a member of the Biddeford, Maine, school’s first varsity football team.

Even when deciding to play this week at the 65th annual Shrine Football Game in Vermont, making his own mark was one of the top priorities.

“I want to bring my jersey back to our trophy case,” said Jenkins, a proud 2018 North grad. “There’s only one other Shrine jersey there.”

History, Jenkins has plenty of it on his mind as he preps to head to Maine for school later this month. But first, there is a job to do at Castleton University, where he has been since Sunday as team New Hampshire preps for Saturday’s 5:30 p.m. collision with Vermont.

New Hampshire hasn’t scored a TD in dropping the last two games to the Green Mountain boys.

Of course, this event is about much more than the game, it’s about helping children, especially those in need at the Shriners Hospitals.

Jenkins has immersed himself in that sentiment this week.

“I’ve always loved kids, so this is a special honor and a special opportunity to help out,” said Jenkins, who has spent much of this summer working witht he younger generation at camps hosted by Nashua Sports Academy. “I was so excited when I was chosen to play in this game because of that. Meeting the kids up here this week and getting to know them is an experience I won’t forget.”

Jenkins spent little time making new friends with his teammates as well. He drove up to the game with Alvirne’s Jake Donahue, whom he had already known, and Milford’s Owen Clary, who was basically a stranger.

“Owen was one of the top fund-raisers, so he’s a captain, and he’s been a great leader,” said Jenkins. He plays the game with a high motor, just like I do, so we’ve gotten along very well. He’s a great kid.”

After the game, Jenkins will return home and prepare for school and the rigors of football.

He’ll also attempt to deal with the fact that he’s down to studying business and playing just the one sport. That should be quite the change of pace.

“You know, I’ve been thinking about that. Hopefully, it will give me more time to focus on school and my studies,” Jenkins said.

“The great thing about football is that it offers so many different challenges of its own. Every day brings something different to you. I really can’t wait.”

At UNE, he’ll be part of a magic moment as the program begins from scratch.

“Anything I accomplish there will be part of history,” he said.