A football coach in Southwest Florida has suspended himself after a video of him screaming derogatory words at one of his players was made public.
Derek Jenks, 45, is the head coach at Southwest Florida Prep and Tech. He apologized to the player he yelled at, but only after the video came to light.
WINK News was invited into the hotel where many of the players live. Many of them are not from here but were recruited by Jenks to play football. The school is designed to help kids get ready for college while also helping their performance on and off the field.
While Jenks is sidelined, other coaches at the school are stepping up, staffers told WINK News. Jenks will also be entering anger management classes to prevent something like this from happening again.
Four players who spoke to WINK News defended their coach, but they didn’t defend what was caught on camera.
The video, 96 seconds long, has been watched by tens of thousands of people. It shows Jenks, face-to-face with a player, screaming obscenities and threatening the teen.
“All that stress and everything that’s going on, it can just all build up until that stress is building up from everything, you know, I say could just fall down like that,” said LaHarris Tillman, an offensive tackle at the school. “Our team is falling apart. Like, it really is.”
Tillman, of Fort Myers, defended Jenks, but not his actions.
“I didn’t even graduate high school, so this was my last, like, last turn like this program really saved, saved me from everything else that was going on. Life was really going downhill.”
The video made Jenks look worse than he is, said T.K. George.
“Coach Jenks… He doesn’t do that,” George said. “The video is not good. We all know that. Yeah, there’s not a single person who can look them in the eyes and say that’s fine.”
Jenks told WINK News he is usually a calm guy and holds himself accountable. He said he plans to make a public statement on Tuesday.
The program had 55 kids, and it’s now down to 35.
“A lot of parents didn’t like that,” Tillman said.