Jauan Jennings to Tennessee: Volunteers Land 4-Star ATH Prospect

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistApril 7, 2014


Jauan Jennings is headed to Tennessee.

Barton Simmons of 247Sports.com provided the news: 

The 4-star prospect, whose collegiate position is as much in the air as his destination was, verbally committed to the Volunteers on Monday, making him one of the first of what should be a slew of highly touted players announcing their decision. Jennings set a final six set of choices earlier this year and decided on a decision date last month. 

He chooses Tennessee over Alabama, Auburn, Northwestern Michigan State and Ohio State. Heading into Monday's announcement, Tennessee was largely seen as the favorite. The Volunteers received a 50 percent confidence rating on 247Sports' recruit page, Auburn (31 percent) and Alabama (19 percent) trailing by a good margin.

There was plenty of good reason behind that assumption. A rising senior at Blackman High School (Murfreesboro, Tenn.), Jennings is ranked No. 156 nationally and is the fourth-best player in the state of Tennessee. He also made a last-ditch visit to Knoxville before his decision, which typically means one of two things: A player is committing or he's going to give the proverbial breakup speech.

In the end, it turned out to be the former.


"From a family standpoint, that's something I want to do, but as an individual I can't limit my chances by staying close to home," Jennings told Wesley Sinor of AL.com of Tennessee. "I look for academics and how much the school brings a positive attitude."

Listed as an "athlete" by 247Sports, the biggest remaining question for Jennings is his position. He's going to have to make a choice between being a dual-threat quarterback, where he's electrifying as a runner but raw as a passer, and safety, where he's...mostly just very, very good but his ceiling isn't as high. 

ESPN's recruiting service has Jennings listed as a safety. In his profile of Jennings' decision, Sinor lists him as a quarterback. While the finalists all recruited him as a quarterback, there is no guarantee he finishes school on offense—and the still 16-year-old kid could always change his mind.

Commitments are nonbinding until a player signs his national letter of intent, which NCAA bylaw prevents from happening until February. Considering the level of uncertainty that went into Jennings' decision and the history of young players flip-flopping, it's hard to say his recruitment is over. By summer, a coach could sway him into re-opening his recruitment.


At least for now, though, Tennessee has landed one of the more intriguing prospects in this class. At 6'4" and 185 pounds, his body likely won't be ready to withstand SEC-level punishment as a freshman. He's going to have to hit the weight room and grow into his frame, which is lanky at the moment but leaves room for muscle growth.

Even if Butch Jones' plan is to use Jennings as a run-first option out of the backfield, he's someone who's going to need developmental time. He needs to learn how to read defenses and adjust to pressure without his first instinct being to run. 

Perhaps if he decides a move to safety is his best option, he'll be able to contribute earlier. Jennings' time at quarterback makes him an aware, athletic safety with the ability to jump on routes with his quickness.

But there's plenty of time to figure that all out. Jennings is a moldable prospect who could be special down the line at either quarterback or defensive back. It'll be up to Jones to see how he wants to go forward with that plan.


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