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Kris Jenkins path to Michigan, outlook for 2021

Expect a little more from the sophomore in the fall.

Michigan v Rutgers Photo by Corey Perrine/Getty Images

A huge cause for concern over the past couple of seasons for the Michigan Wolverines is the lack of development and talent that has come from the defensive interior. The last significant interior defensive lineman in Ann Arbor was Maurice Hurst, who graduated in 2017. Four years later, there are some promising young players who will look to make an impact at the position in the near future. One of those names to watch is a player with bloodlines in football, and that is redshirt freshman Kris Jenkins

The story so far

Jenkins, hoping to follow his father’s path to the NFL, committed to Michigan just over two years ago in July 2019. His father, Kris Jenkins, was a four-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro from 2001-10 with the Carolina Panthers and New York Jets.

Now, Jenkins hopes to seal his destiny and follow his father’s footsteps into the NFL. The Olney, Maryland product went against his dad’s alma mater and home-state team, the Maryland Terrapins, and chose the Wolverines instead. The three-star recruit was praised by early evaluators with his tape, showing a player who had a strong burst and a good athletic ability without a defined position and an undersized body.

That has changed in his time in Ann Arbor. The Wolverines locked him in as an interior defensive lineman, even though he played more on the outside in high school. Jenkins has put on over 25 pounds of weight in his first calendar year at Michigan.

As a freshman, Jenkins saw playing time in the blowout loss to Wisconsin. He contributed both on special teams and the defensive line. However, he secured the redshirt in his first season as that was the only playing time he saw in the six-game season.

Outlook moving forward

When Jim Harbaugh joined Jon Jansen on the In The Trenches Podcast after spring practices, he said he really liked the way the defensive interior was coming along. One name he mentioned in the process was Jenkins.

With the new scheme under Mike Macdonald, there will be guys who played defensive end last year who will play in a two-point stance. Others will move to the interior and remain in the three-point stance. Jenkins will be a guy who maybe would have played both on the interior and outside had Don Brown been the defensive coordinator, similar to the multi-position role we saw from Carlo Kemp last year.

Jenkins reportedly had a really strong spring camp and impressed a lot of coaches. However, he is still a year away from seeing a large role on this team. He should be a backup for the team in 2021 but could crack the rotation and see a bit of playing time depending on how often Macdonald switches his big guys in and out.