With the loss of three of the Vols’ four scholarship quarterbacks this past year, Tennessee head coach Butch Jones knew that it was of paramount importance to recruit well at the quarterback position heading into the 2015 season. Not only did Jones and the Tennessee coaching staff rise to the challenge, they landed arguably the top class of freshman quarterbacks in the entire nation for 2015. This group is comprised of three consensus 4-star recruits — Jauan Jennings, Quinten Dormady and Sheriron Jones. In the first of a three-part series featuring each of the freshman quarterbacks, here is a closer look at Jennings.
The first of the three highly touted signal-callers to commit to the Vols was Jennings, the home state product who starred at Blackman High School in Murfreesboro. Jennings is a phenomenal athlete that possesses the talent to play multiple positions, which enabled him to garner the accolade of Tennessee Mr. Football in class AAA for 2014. The 6-4, 200-pound rising star also ranked as the No. 167 player in the nation according to the 247 Sports composite rankings for the 2015 class.
Among Jennings’ greatest attributes are his athleticism and speed, which allowed him to rush for 883 yards and 17 touchdowns in his senior season at Blackman. Jennings’ ability to escape the pocket, giving valuable time for receivers to get open, is another of his stronger assets. This aided tremendously in his 2,155 passing yards and 22 touchdowns through the air in his final season of high school football.
While Jennings has plenty of upside as a dual-threat quarterback, he is not quite as polished as his freshman quarterback counterparts in the passing game. Footwork, accuracy and mechanics are all areas where he needs to show improvement. Running ability is a great attribute for any quarterback to possess, and there is no doubt that Jennings has wheels, but that will only get him so far against the rough and tumble defenses of the SEC.
The good news is that Jennings was able to get a jump start by enrolling early at Tennessee allowing him to participate in spring drills. He also participated in the 2015 Orange and White game, where his gifts were on full display, breaking free for a crowd pleasing 45-yard jaunt to the end zone.
All indications coming out of spring practice are that Jennings resides just behind fellow freshman Quinten Dormady for the backup spot on the depth chart. Jennings also will have his hands full competing with the other talented incoming freshman, Sheriron Jones, who is expected to arrive on campus in the near future.
Jennings is the most athletically gifted of the three freshman quarterbacks. This should help provide him with every opportunity to seize the No. 2 spot behind incumbent starter Dobbs heading into the season opener, but the fact remains that he will need to make tremendous strides in the passing game between now and Sept. 5 to make that a reality. One thing that is quite evident, Jennings is destined to be an impact player for the Vols, even if it turns out that his future lies somewhere other than quarterback. This is an advantage and luxury his fellow competitors do not possess.
— Written by Rob McVey, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. McVey is a diehard Tennessee Volunteers fan who loves singing “Rocky Top” every opportunity he gets. Follow him on Twitter @Rob_UTVOLS.
(Jauan Jennings photo courtesy of UTSports.com)