Imhotep Charter's football team was going through its practice drills late Monday afternoon when head coach Nick Lincoln abruptly blew his whistle and had his players huddle around him.

The reason?

Eagles safety and captain Malcolm Jenkins, who has become known for his push for his social justice and racial equality, was walking into the Lonnie Young Recreation Center.

Jenkins was in East Germantown to give a motivational speech to the players and, and in conjunction with Under Armour, celebrate the company's contributions to the Public League program.

Under Armour had lined the field on Sunday. On Monday, it brought tackling dummies, a seven-man chute, about 100 footballs, and pop-up bags. Jenkins is affiliated with Under Armour.

At the end of the school day, the coaches gathered the players in Imhotep's auditorium and gave them cleats, socks, headbands, and track pants and jackets provided by the company.

"We just want to give back as much as possible," said Thomas Harris, Under Armour's creative director of consumer engagement.

Thomas said Imhotep is one of Under Armour's "Undeniable" members, which recognizes, aids, and outfits 60-plus high schools that "exhibit excellence on and off the field and embody our company's principles."

Surrounded by Imhotep's wide-eyed players and parents, Jenkins addressed the group.

Imhotep Charter’s players intently listen to Eagles safety Malcomn Jenkins, a surprise guest at Monday’s practice.
YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Imhotep Charter’s players intently listen to Eagles safety Malcomn Jenkins, a surprise guest at Monday’s practice.

"I've been playing this game for the 23 years," the 30-year told them. "The first two years I played organized football, I wanted to quit.

"When I got to high school, I fell in love with the competition. That's how I got my scholarship to Ohio State."

Last season, in helping the Eagles win their first Super Bowl, Jenkins registered 76 tackles, including 63 solos, and made two interceptions.

The 6-foot, 205-pounder is in his 10th season in the NFL. He was drafted by the New Orleans Saints in the first round of the 2009 draft, No. 14 overall.

"If you want to be the best, you have to put in the work day in and day out," Jenkins said to the players. "Every time you set out to do something, you have to have your goal in mind.

"It's all about the impact. How do I impact the game, how do I impact my teammates, how do I impact the community?"

Jenkins and the Under Armour representatives handed out white placards and black markers to the players, and asked them to write down what motivates them.

One Imhotep player wrote, "I plan to get my family out of the situation we are in right now."

Another wrote that he played for his "close homie" and ex-teammate who was recently killed. Former Imhotep running back and Penn State-bound track standout Kristian Marche, 18, was shot to death outside his West Oak Lane home on Aug. 13.

Imhotep Charter’s Tykee Smith is a multipurpose standout and West Virginia recruit.
CHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer
Imhotep Charter’s Tykee Smith is a multipurpose standout and West Virginia recruit.

Imhotep senior Tykee Smith, a multipurpose standout and West Virginia recruit, was thrilled to meet and hear from Jenkins.

"It was really great," he said. "We learned about his story, and found out what it took for him to get where he is now. That's something we can all think about in the future."