As a member of the Arizona Wildcats scout team, Daniel Jenkins spent his redshirt freshman season pretending to be somebody else.
One week, he'd be Oregon State tailback Jacquizz Rodgers; other times, he'd be Cal's Jahvid Best or Oregon's LaMichael James.
This spring, Jenkins can finally be himself.
"I wouldn't say it's weird, but it comes with the tasks and duties that are asked of you," Jenkins said. "You have to step up when you're called, whatever they want you to do, and try to perform at the highest level."
The UA tailback posted a breakout performance in Saturday's scrimmage at Arizona Stadium, rushing 16 times for a team-high 91 yards and a touchdown. Jenkins, a former star at Rancho Verde High School in Moreno Valley, Calif., also caught four passes for 28 yards.
Though the 5-foot-9-inch, 187-pound Jenkins is probably a year away from serious playing time, coaches have been impressed with his production during a thin spring.
Starter Nicolas Grigsby and backup Keola Antolin have been limited by leg and shoulder injuries in spring drills; third-stringer Greg Nwoko won't play at all after undergoing off-season shoulder surgery. Their injuries have meant more opportunities for Jenkins, Kylan Butler and Taimi Tutogi.
"I think all our young backs are running good," UA coach Mike Stoops said. "Kylan ran well and also Daniel. It's great to give those guys reps; we know what the other guys can do."
Jenkins, 17, called the extra reps "a blessing and an honor."
In reality, they're well-deserved.
Jenkins was a practice-squad standout as a true freshman, replicating the running styles of some of the conference's best backs. Coaches were so impressed that they considered removing his redshirt before the UA's Nov. 7 game against Washington State. Jenkins moved from the practice squad to the UA's first- and second-team offenses. He was, seemingly, ready to debut.
A night before the game, however, Arizona coaches changed their minds.
"They had a meeting and decided to hold my redshirt. They didn't want to waste the year for me," Jenkins said. "Back then, I didn't understand it. But now? Definitely."
Jenkins said he learned one major thing during his redshirt season.
"Patience," he said. "A lot of freshmen come in expecting a lot right away, and quick. You've just got to be patient, and when your name is called, be ready."
• Stoops said he's been impressed by Richard Morrison, who switched to inside receiver after spending his redshirt freshman season as a quarterback.
"Rich has done a lot of good things. It's a great position for him," Stoops said. "He's got great speed and the versatility to give you another option inside."
• The Wildcats will practice at Salpointe Catholic High School on Wednesday and Thursday because of poor field conditions at Arizona Stadium and the ongoing construction at the Jimenez Practice Facility.
"We have no field space, and this field's getting worn out," Stoops said. "It's just not healthy. … You have to protect the safety of your players."
Coaches are hopeful the field will recover in time for the April 10 spring game.