Michigan receiver Jehu Chesson doesn't remember the first few years of his life in his native Liberia, and he has only a slight recollection of the time he and his family spent in the Ivory Coast before moving to the United States.
But being the child of parents who wanted to create a better life for their family has left a profound imprint on Chesson, a redshirt junior for the Wolverines.
"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."
Chesson was 2 when his parents left Liberia and was 5 when the family moved to St. Louis. He attended Ladue Horton Watkins High, where he played football and ran track, although he admits soccer was his first love.
"I'm very proud of my country. I'm very proud to be Liberian," Chesson said. "It's not something I talk about all the time. I grew up in St. Louis. I consider St. Louis home, but I do know that I was born in Liberia, and I'm proud to be Liberian."
The 6-foot-3, 207 pounder is expected to be a major contributor at receiver this fall. Linebacker Joe Bolden said Chesson and all the receivers have made gains and stood out during seven-on-seven competition this offseason.
Chesson has distinguished himself as a skilled and graceful runner willing to do whatever it takes to make the catch.
"The dude can run," Bolden said of Chesson. "I grew up in the sticks for a couple years before I moved into a more populated area (in Ohio) to play some football. I've seen a lot of deer run, and Jehu runs like a deer. The kid can play. (Receiver Amara) Darboh can play. We've got some wide receivers who are going to make some plays."
A leg injury slowed Chesson last season for a few games, and he finished with 14 catches for 154 yards. In two seasons, he has 375 receiving yards and a touchdowns and has made seven starts. He has a reception in nine of the last 13 games. In his first season he was a special teams contributor.
With the departure of Devin Funchess to the NFL, Chesson and Darboh will be two of Michigan's key receivers.
Unlike some of his teammates, Chesson refers to himself as "social media deficient" and chooses to avoid that world. He was nattily dressed at Big Ten media days in Chicago last week with a plaid bow tie he tied himself, and said it's not that he's square – he has his silly moments – but said there is life behind social media.
He watches Netflix, loves the reality show "Cake Boss," and Thursday and Friday nights typically include bowling.
"It's balanced," Chesson said of his personality. "I don't go out and really look for things (on social media). I spend my time doing other things."