After four standout seasons as one of Michigan’s top receivers, Jehu Chesson enters the NFL Drafts seeking a pro career as productive and memorable as his college one.
Chesson arrived at Michigan in 2012 as a 3-star recruit out of St. Louis, then quickly developed into an impact player for the Wolverines, scoring 16 all-purpose touchdowns in his career.
Who is Jehu Chesson? 5 things to know
1. Chesson was born in Liberia and raised briefly in the Ivory Coast
Chesson has a more interesting biography than most NFL Draft prospects. He was born in Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, but when civil war hit the country, his father moved to the United States while he and his mother escaped to the Ivory Coast, according to a profile on MLive.com.
At age 5, he finally arrived St. Louis, where he spent the rest of his childhood. He became a football and track star and finally wound up at Michigan. In 2015, Chesson told the Detroit News that the difficulty his family experienced early in his life still motivates him.
“I think that’s one of the reasons I kind of have a chip on my shoulder,” Chesson said last week. “Because coming to a country with nothing and then establishing your family in such a way you can set your kids up to be successful. I mean, God first. But a lot of the things my dad did and sacrificed for his family — he’s one of the greatest role models in my life and it means a lot to me that somebody like that would be so selfless. It wasn’t comfortable for him to leave, but he left for better opportunity and it ended up working out.
“If you come here with nothing, obviously you need a job, you need to work hard, you need to go to school. So everything I’m doing now it’s because, like I said, God willing and God first, but (my father) kind of set that up, my mother as well.”
2. He is near the top of Michigan’s all-time list in all the major receiving categories
Michigan has had many incredible receivers over the years, from Braylon Edwards to Amani Toomer to Desmond Howard to Mario Manningham to countless others.
But when you look in the Michigan record books, Chesson’s name is never far from the top. He ranks 20th in program history with 114 catches, 21st with 1,639 receiving yards and tied for 18th with 12 receiving touchdowns.
Chesson may not have as big a name as some other great Michigan receivers, but his numbers aren’t too far off from them.
3. Chesson did a little bit of everything for Michigan
Not only was Chesson one of Michigan’s top receivers throughout his time in Ann Arbor, he contributed in other ways as well.
Chesson had 22 rush attempts as a Wolverines, accruing 220 yards and three touchdowns. He also returned six kicks, including one for a game-opening touchdown against Northwestern his junior year. And he made an impact in special teams coverage, with 17 career tackles.
Chesson’s versatility should help him in the NFL, where he will likely be asked to help on special teams as a young player.
4. His 2015 season was absolutely insane
Chesson showed off all his potential during his junior season, when he was one of the best receivers in the Big Ten.
That year, Chesson set career highs in receptions (50), receiving yards (765) and receiving touchdowns (nine). He closed the season impossibly strong, catching 27 passes for 505 yards and six touchdowns over the year’s final four games, including a bowl win over Florida.
The highlight of Chesson’s season and career came Nov. 14 against Indiana, when he exploded for 10 catches, 207 yards and four touchdowns. His four scores tied a program record for most in a game.
5. A knee injury he suffered in his junior-season bowl game is part of the reason he isn’t expected to be an early-round pick
Chesson’s great junior season ended poorly, when he injured his knee in Michigan’s bowl game. He recovered quickly and was ready to play by the first game of the following season, but some of his explosiveness was gone. As a senior, he caught at least two passes in all but two games, but he never again matched the gaudy numbers he produced at the end of 2015.
That helps explain why he was projected as a mid- to late-round pick in the draft. Here’s an excerpt of what Lance Zierlein described as Chesson’s weaknesses in his NFL Draft scouting report.
Suffered knee injury in bowl game his junior season and dealt with extended recovery time. Didn’t look like the same guy in 2016 and production dropped substantially. Struggled to find necessary separation quickness in his routes.
In the NFL, he’ll hope to rediscover the athleticism he flashed as a junior.