CONCORD -- The easiest way to watch a football game is to follow the football. When watching Mt. Diablo High School, that usually means following Darneail Jenkins.
Jenkins was All-Diablo Valley Athletic League last year at wide receiver, and the 6-foot-3, 185-pound senior remains an established game-breaker at that position. He also starts at middle linebacker, after playing defensive end as a junior.
Jenkins also plays quarterback sometimes -- against San Lorenzo, he threw a 50-yard touchdown pass and ran scores of 67 and 10 yards.
"We put him at quarterback and he did some real good things, and now we're putting in plays to get him the ball, because you have to put the ball in the hands of your playmakers. Offensively he is our playmaker," said second-year head coach Bryan Shaw. "But we're getting some help from our running back now, because teams now are triple-teaming (Jenkins)."
Jenkins followed his performance against San Lorenzo -- which also included four tackles for loss on defense -- with a 60-yard touchdown catch in a victory over Fremont-Oakland. Then in a 26-14 victory over Berean Christian, Jenkins caught touchdown passes of 49 and 40 yards, finishing with four catches for 134 yards.
His size and speed make him a threatening presence when the ball is in his hands. On his touchdown against Fremont, Shaw said, Jenkins simply ran a slant pattern. When he made the catch and made his cut, he hit full speed in one stride and was long gone.
Though Jenkins is often the center of attention, he is adamant about giving plenty of credit to his teammates. His touchdown pass against San Lorenzo was to his brother Davail, a junior who is a returning starter at wide receiver.
Also, he and quarterback Austin Hunt have played together as freshmen and have developed a good chemistry, Jenkins said. Hunt had one of the best games of his prep career against Berean, completing 16-of-25 passes for 237 yards and three TDs.
The Jenkins brothers give Mt. Diablo a potent element. Davail has had two long touchdown receptions, and the more success he has, the more teams will be forced to pay close attention to him instead of double- and triple-teaming Darneail.
Mt. Diablo struggled in the first few weeks, losing the opening game to Moreau Catholic then failing to hold on to a first-half lead against San Lorenzo. But as the conditioning and timing get better, the Red Devils improved, Shaw said.
With Jenkins, it's been particularly noticeable with his defensive play, the coach said.
"The first couple of weeks he wasn't really in game shape," Shaw said. "But now that he's getting into better condition, he's really been making some plays on defense."
Mt. Diablo has struggled for a long time -- its last league title was a co-championship in 1972 -- and Jenkins wants to do all he can to see that suffering come to an end.
"My goal this season is to make it to the playoffs and build a better program, not just for me but for our school," Jenkins said.
"He's real disciplined with the expectations in the offseason," Shaw said. "He's kind of a team leader in that when things are going wrong in a game, everyone looks to him to make a play, and he's done that. He's kind of the momentum for the team."
It's all part of what has become a long-range goal for Jenkins, who was a few minutes late for practice last Thursday because he was completing the online registration to take the SAT. That, along with success on the field, is one of his steps toward playing football in college.
That idea began to take form last summer when Jenkins showed his stuff at Junior Day at San Jose State.
"I think he can get into a Division I school and play as a freshman just because of his play-making ability," said Shaw, who knows a thing or two about talent -- four of his players from his days at Seaside High were in NFL camps this year.
"It was a great experience," Jenkins said of the one-day camp at San Jose State. "It showed me how hard to I have to work to get to that level, and I got to show what I can do."
San Jose State has put Jenkins on its radar, as has North Dakota State, Shaw said. Then after he sent out more video of Jenkins' highlights, some Pac-12 schools have also begun to show interest, Shaw said.
"I'd like to go to San Jose, because I like the engineering program," Jenkins said. "And I like Fresno State. But Cal would be my dream school."
If things keep progressing, dreams could come true.