Titans DB Jackrabbit Jenkins Found His New Name Following a College Film Room Session

For years, the football world knew Janoris Jenkins by that name. Although players, coaches, and broadcasters called him “Jackrabbit,” the league officially recognized the Pro Bowl defensive back as Janoris.

Things changed ahead of the 2021 season, and fans may have even noticed that broadcast graphics referred to the Tennessee Titans defensive back as Jackrabbit. The story behind the change and the nickname itself is fascinating, as many things from the great state of Florida tend to be.

Janoris Jenkins earned the nickname ‘Jackrabbit’ during his early days at the University of Florida

Florida Gators defensive back Janoris 'Jackrabbit' Jenkins in 2010.
Janoris Jenkins, seen during his Florida Gator days, earned his ‘Jackrabbit’ nickname in college | Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Decades before he snagged interceptions for the AFC South-winning Titans, Jenkins grew up in Pahokee, Fla. The small town of roughly 6,000 people has produced several notable NFL players, including Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker Rickey Jackson and former Pro Bowl receiver Anquan Boldin.

After emerging as one of the country’s top defensive backs at Pahokee High School in the mid-2000s, Jenkins signed with the University of Florida ahead of the 2008 season. According to the Tennessean, the future Pro Bowler told reporters in 2021 that he earned his nickname not long after enrolling in Gainesville. 

“When I first entered college, I entered in January (for) spring ball. I really didn’t know any plays when I went out there, but I was making a lot of plays. We got in the film room, and my coach was just like, ‘You’re moving fast. You’re moving like a jackrabbit.’ Because where I’m from, we’re catching rabbits.”  

Janoris Jenkins

Not every nickname needs to be complicated. The moniker stuck, and Jenkins, now 33, is still going by Jackrabbit.

The NFL appears divided on what to call Jenkins

Jenkins made himself clear in the summer of 2021: he wanted to be called Jackrabbit, not Janoris.

“I don’t like Janoris,” Jenkins told reporters. “It’s not my name.”

Thus far, the veteran defender has only partially gotten his wish. A glance at social media shows media members, even in the Tennessee area, have recently alternated between the two names.

The Titans’ official website lists him as Jackrabbit Jenkins and mentions his birth name in a biography. CBS’ lineup graphics regularly used Jackrabbit instead of Janoris throughout the 2021 NFL season.

However, the NFL’s official website still only refers to the veteran defensive back as Janoris. At least the NFL’s official Twitter account recognizes him as Jackrabbit. Small victories.

Jenkins is still going strong regardless of what name you call him

At 33 years old, Jenkins doesn’t have the blazing speed that made him the 39th overall pick in the 2012 draft. However, he still makes up for what he lacks in agility and acceleration in awareness and experience.

The veteran cornerback broke up six passes and grabbed an interception in 14 games (13 starts) during the 2021 regular season. He earned a starting job out of training camp and held his own throughout the year.

The next step for Jenkins, who won a national championship at Florida, is finally earning a Super Bowl ring. After that, he should prioritize ensuring the NFL finally recognizes him by his preferred name.

Then again, he might be fine simply being known as “Janoris Jenkins, Super Bowl champion.”

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