After graduating from Ladue, one senior will again ‘Go Blue’
Over the past four years, Ladue students have been able to cheer “J-Who? Jehu!” from the bleachers while they watched their classmate haul in touchdown passes from all over the field. Next fall, however, they will have the opportunity to watch senior Jehu Chesson on the big screen when he enrolls at the University of Michigan and its tradition-laden football program.
Chesson announced his verbal commitment to play football at Michigan Dec. 21, concluding a lengthy recruitment process. Numerous Division I programs offered Chesson a scholarship, and at the end of the day he chose the Wolverines over Northwestern University and the University of Iowa.
“Ultimately Michigan seemed right,” Chesson said, “I do not know all the ins and outs of the school but I do trust that I will be challenged, and I will find a way to find those who can help me… after all [coach] Bo [Shembechler] said, ‘Those who stay will be champions.’ I want to be one just not in football but in life.’ ”
Chesson’s recruitment brought high profile attention and excitement to the Ladue football program. Ladue head football coach Mike Tarpey relished the vivacity it brought, and the kind of encouragement that it could inspire among the players.
“I think the recruiting process was exciting for our program, but I enjoyed having all the big schools visit just as much as I did all the little schools visit for other players,” Tarpey said, “I mean I was a Notre Dame fan growing up so it was pretty cool to have Notre Dame along with USC and Alabama come on days, but I enjoy talking with the Rhodes and William Jewels just as much. I think the process brought an energy to the program and showed others that that kind of success is attainable if a kid is willing to work for it.”
Michigan brings a prestigious reputation on the field and off. The football program boasts 11 National Championships, three Heisman Trophy winners, and the most wins of any D-1 program of all time. Academically, the school is ranked 28th among national universities and fourth among public institutions according to US News and World Report. Tarpey thinks these qualities make the school an excellent fit.
“I think Michigan is a good fit for Jehu because it is both academically and athletically challenging,” Tarpey said. “When recruiters came to talk about him, I always told them that he would be an asset to their program even if he never stepped on the field. You can’t say that about some kids at the division one level. Not only his athletic ability makes him special, but his character does as well.”
That character is something that Chesson prided himself in bearing long before his name rose to the top of prospect lists and recruiting websites. Although he stood out locally for years, earning a D-1 scholarship is representative of much more than the ability to play ball.
“Most D-1 caliber athletes that receive scholarships to play football have to prove themselves at a point in their high school career, and they usually visit the schools they are looking at and make a decision,” Chesson said. “But a great part about the recruitment for me personally was not the publicity but the fact that I saw results in my dedication. Trials and tribulations were the batter to bake a scholarship and, of course, God’s blessings that gave me the potential and body of a college football player.”
During his tenure at Ladue, however, Chesson has not limited himself to the gridiron. He also starred as a four-year letterman in track and three-year letterman in basketball, sports that allowed him to grow physically and psychologically.
“Track and basketball have helped me in football, mainly mentally in track more than anything else,” Chesson said. “Basketball is a relief because I love playing it, and it is fun. I have never really focused just on football.”
His presence in Ram athletics has culminated in records, relationships and memories that leave many coaches and teammates with nothing but laudatory remarks and smiles etched on their faces. From ending the football losing streak to the Clayton Greyhounds to winning a championship in the 4×200 meter relay at the state meet, the accolades and accomplishments have been abundant.
“He was a great teammate and a good leader,” sophomore and wide receiver Duncan Cannon said. “He was very vocal and brought a lot of excitement. Jehu always was helping me and taught me some of the things that he does as a receiver and safety.”
His skill thrust him into a leadership position, one he embraced and used to groom future Rams to uphold student-athlete excellence. But for all the speed and electric playmaking he brought to the field, Chesson took a very different approach to his recruitment.
“I asked a lot of questions,” Chesson said. “Those questions were to some athletes I knew that were currently playing college football or graduated. But the best advice [I got] was to go where the people want you genuinely and you see yourself being successful.”
Once Michigan was able to reciprocate that genuine sense of desire to get him there, he was ready to make the commitment to join the Wolverine family. And now that he is a part of the pack? The hard work and dedication starts all over again.
“I look forward to being a sponge in college, meaning I want to absorb every bit of football I can. I am a student of the game and want to experience things high school football could never do and just grow. I want to be successful,” Chesson said.
Before he departs for the Big House, Chesson will have time enjoy the remainder of his senior year and prepare for next level. If his time at Ladue is any indication, Chesson is well on his way to achieving more of that hard-earned success. #