Michigan commit Jehu Chesson hopes track exploits translate to football field
Michigan football commit Jehu Chesson ran a 10.7-second 100-meter dash over the weekend, which was fast enough to win him a Missouri Class 4 track and field state championship.
He did it only 15 minutes after placing runner-up in the 110-meter hurdles (14.15 seconds). He also added a state title in the 300-meter hurdles (37.77 seconds).
Not bad for a guy who, when he committed to Michigan, was characterized by ESPN as having "some value as a vertical target due to his frame/speed combination, but we are not convinced he is a great speed guy."
"I’ve seen those questions about my speed," Chesson said by phone this week. "I really don’t know what to say about those people other than, 'Just watch me. Tape doesn’t lie.'
"With me, if you tell me I’m slow, I’m just going to say it’s not true because I know how fast I can run."
Football speed doesn't necessarily correlate to track speed, and vice versa, but Chesson said participating in track has made him a better football player. He said beyond the obvious advantage of working on his speed, the hip strength he built doing hurdles has made him a more powerful runner.
"It could just be a placebo effect, but I feel I can break tackles better because I have a stronger core," he said.
Chesson said he's also become stronger mentally because track requires him to push his limits every day.
"My coach usually tells me this about the limits you think you have: When you reach them, you realize they weren’t your limits," Chesson said. "It's really just mind over matter. You just have to walk back up to line every time and give it your all. Same as in football."
Chesson's speed, combined with his 6-foot-3 frame, positions him to compete for a job right away after Michigan lost top receiver Junior Hemingway to graduation and top returner Darryl Stonum to dismissal.
Senior Roy Roundtree and junior Jeremy Gallon are projected to start at wideout next year, but there is little experience on the rest of the roster. Sophomore Jerald Robinson, the favorite to win the third starting spot, has played in two career games at receiver and has yet to catch a pass.
That could leave an opening for Chesson or Amara Darboh, Michigan's other incoming freshman receiver, to earn some playing time next season. The wideouts -- both of whom were born in Africa -- already are friends and will become roommates this summer.
"I’ve been made aware (by coaches) of the position they're in," Chesson said. "Would they like it if a young kid came in and could play away? Yeah, but I have to humble myself into that. It’s going to be faster, quicker, guys are going to be bigger.
"There will be a pressure to produce, and there's nothing wrong with that. I expect that, and welcome it. ... But even if I were to get redshirted, I wouldn't take it (as criticism). I'd just work to get better for the next year."
To prepare for fall camp, Chesson will work out with a private trainer and run routes with Brandon Sheperd, a receiver from nearby Chesterfield who is headed to Oklahoma State.
He also spends 30 to 35 minutes every day reading the Michigan playbook he received earlier this month from position coach Jeff Hecklinski. It's broken into 20 sections, and Chesson is expected to have four or five down by the time he arrives on campus.
"There are some things I haven’t seen before, but it's not anything I can’t learn if I really put my mind to it," Chesson said. "It's kind of like calculus, in that way. You just got to work at it. Just have to get used to the language."