Who ever said professional athletes can’t be fans, too?
Don’t tell Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle
“Usually when I watch Clemson I have to watch it by myself because I don’t like all the heckling,” Jenkins said. “Last year, I was in Chicago and when [Clemson] lost in the national championship I had all those guys in my ear. So this year I wanted to watch it alone.”
Clemson defeated the University of Alabama, 35-31, in a thrilling rematch of last year’s title game to secure its first national championship since 1981.
“I honestly turned it off when they were down by 10 in the fourth quarter. I turned it off and just had to clear my mind,” Jenkins said. “I turned it back on with about five minutes left and we were only down by three. I watched the rest of the game and we pulled it off. The whole game was stressful because [Alabama] was running the ball and we were turning the ball over on offense, but we pulled it together when it counted and finally ended that 35-year drought.”
Jenkins, a native of Clemson, S.C., played four seasons for the Tigers from 2007-10. He was a fan long before he played his first snap at the school.
“My grandpa and I used to go to the games every Saturday – he was a season-ticket holder,” Jenkins said. “I’ve been going to the games since I was seven. To see them win the national championship is a blessing. The most fun thing about it is to see that city on TV when they won it. They were closing the streets and letting everybody come down to celebrate. It’s special and we deserve it. It’s been a long time coming and I’m glad we got it.”
Though he watched it alone, Jenkins was texting back and forth with other Clemson alums such as Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and Buffalo Bills linebacker Shaq Lawson throughout the evening.
“We’re a family,” Jenkins said. “Just to be in that group chat [is fun]. Everybody was speechless. All you saw was, ‘Wow,’ or ‘We really did it?’ I don’t think it sunk in that we actually won it until Tuesday morning.”
A first-team All-ACC selection his senior season, Jenkins made his mark as a Tiger before heading to the NFL, tallying 31 tackles for loss and five sacks in his collegiate career. He still owns the school record for blocked kicks in a career with four.
Jenkins signed with Kansas City on Nov. 14 and played in seven games, tallying five tackles.