Jauan Jennings has already made an impact in his first two years as a Tennessee Volunteer. After all, Jennings has two catches which he is unlikely to top and which any fan is equally unlikely to forget. But with the departure of Josh Malone to the NFL, Jennings enters his junior season as Tennessee’s bona fide number one receiver.
Jennings was a member of Tennessee’s 2015 recruiting class, ranked as a four-star recruit (0.9257) by the 247Sports Composite Rankings with other offers which included Alabama, Ohio State and Penn State. Jennings came out of Blackman (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) High School as a dual threat quarterback, but once he got to UT and it was apparent he was not going to have much of an opportunity to play under center, Butch Jones decided to use his athleticism at receiver.
In his freshman season, Jennings had 14 receptions for 149 yards in 11 games. While he did not tally a receiving touchdown in 2015, he did complete a 58-yard touchdown pass to Josh Dobbs against Florida.
In 2016, Jennings really made his presence felt. He recorded 40 receptions for 580 yards and seven touchdowns. But two of those 40 receptions will live in Tennessee folklore forever - a 67-yard touchdown catch against Jalen Tabor to give the Vols the lead for good against Florida and a 43-yard Hail Mary touchdown as time expired to beat Georgia. Even aside from those two amazing moments, Jennings’s production in 2016 was critical to Tennessee’s offensive success.
Jennings is a fantastic athlete. He doesn’t drop balls and his routes are always crisp and on time. Much like John Kelly, Jennings will be even more critical to Tennessee’s offense when either Quinten Dormady or Jarrett Guarantano makes his first start of his career against Georgia Tech. The rest of the receiving corps next year will be made up of mostly inexperienced players, so having Jennings as a reliable target will be crucial for the new quarterback’s comfort.
I don’t know how Jennings can top some of the moments he had last year, but I expect his overall workload and production to increase in 2017. Jennings could certainly be a 1,000-yard receiver next year if he improves at the pace which he has since he arrived on campus.