Official looks inside Schembechler Hall are a rare occurrence, but the Michigan Wolverines have opened the doors ahead of their 2023 season to shine a light on some key players.
After previously releasing a web series about the women’s basketball team and the freshman members of the men’s basketball squad, Michigan has now added a football series to the mix, focusing on draft eligible players that chose to return over declaring for the 2023 NFL Draft.
In the debut episode of “Those Who Stay,” the spotlight was on defensive tackle Kris Jenkins — known to his teammates as “The Mutant.”
“So my nickname ‘The Mutant,’ it came from (strength and conditioning coach Ben Herbert) actually,” Jenkins said. “My sophomore year, he just said ‘Kris Jenkins is a mutant’ — and you know ever since then it kind of stuck.”
Standing 6-foot-3 and weighing in at 285 pounds, the claim of Jenkins being a mutant is far from hyperbole. His combination of speed and strength led to Jenkins finishing top-five in total and solo tackles. He was also an All-Big Ten Honorable Mention in 2022.
Not only does Jenkins have the physical stats to be a formidable threat in 2023, he has the NFL pedigree as well, with both his dad, Kris Jenkins Sr., and uncle, Cullen Jenkins, having enjoyed long stretches in the league. Jenkins hopes to not only live up to that impressive lineage, but break out of it’s shadow.
“All my life, pretty much all my life, I’ve lived in my father’s shadow,” Jenkins said. “Everybody when they say Kris Jenkins, they think of the great Kris Jenkins Sr. who played for the Panthers, who played for the Jets — so since I started playing I wanted everyone to everybody to know that when they hear the name Kris Jenkins, they think of me.
“My dad’s been one of those teachers without being a teacher. Everyday he just kept telling me ‘Why do you play the game?’ and I try to give him like a wholesome answer. He’s like ‘I know that’s not the real reason, why do you want to play the game?’ Everyday he’s chipping away at embracing my true identity and bringing that to the game.”
So why did Jenkins come back to Ann Arbor? It comes down to three words — job’s not finished.
“When I hear the phrase, ‘Those who stay will be champions’, I think about all the work we’ve been putting in the last two seasons,” Jenkins said. “Everything we’ve had to grind through, everything we’ve had to struggle through to get to the point we’re at. If you stick with the process and you trust the process, you will be a champion.”