clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Rocky Top Talk Draft Profile: WR Jauan Jennings

New, 1 comment

Time to take a look at one of the more memorable Volunteers in recent history.

NCAA Football: South Carolina at Tennessee
Jennings is one of the most physical receivers in UT history.
Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Our next draft profile is Jauan Jennings, who was a five-year receiver for the Vols.

There were plenty of memorable moments during Jennings’ career on Rocky Top, so let’s waste no more time and dive in.

Measureables and Career Stats

  • 6-foot-3, 215-pounds
  • 31-5/8” arms
  • 9” hands
  • 40yd dash: 4.72
  • Vertical jump: 29.0
  • Broad jump: 119.0

Everyone knows Jennings’ physical measurables aren’t going to blow anyone away. In fact, they will likely make most people think twice about drafting him this year.

He didn’t test very well at the combine, but that was to be expected. Jennings has never really been known as a “burner” or any kind of athletically gifted receiver. He relies on toughness, instincts, and an insane work ethic to get the job done.

The former high school quarterback was used in a variety of ways and finished his career with at least one rushing, receiving, and passing touchdown:

  • Appeared and/or started in 48 games from 2015-2019
  • Finished with 146 receptions for 2,153 yards (14.7 ypc) and 18 touchdowns
  • Ran the ball 25 times for 93 yards (3.7 ypc) and one touchdown
  • Completed 2 of 5 passes for 62 yards and two touchdowns
  • Recorded one interception on defense

Jauan Jennings’ Career On Rocky Top

As I briefly mentioned earlier, there were plenty of memorable moments during Jennings’ five-year career.

He was recruited out of Blackman High School in Murfreesboro, Tennessee as a four-star dual-threat quarterback. There was initial chatter that Jennings would play safety for the Vols, but issues with then-receivers Preston Williams and Von Pearson led to Jennings moving into the receiver room.

Jennings’ appeared in 11 games during his freshman year. He finished with 14 receptions for 146 yards, but the highlight of his season was a 58-yard touchdown pass to Joshua Dobbs against the Florida Gators.

Things really began to click for him in 2016. He tied for second on the team in receptions (40) and finished second with 580 yards and seven touchdowns. But it wasn’t just the stat line that made Jennings a household name.

He came up with two signature plays that year and one of said plays will be remembered as one of the greatest plays in Tennessee history.

Jennings burnt Jalen Tabor for a 68-yard touchdown that helped the Vols erase a 21-3 halftime deficit and win their first game against the Gators in 11 seasons. He will eventually appear at the bottom of your screen, wearing No. 15:

Here’s a good angle of him burning Tabor off the release:

The other play was the “Dobbs-Nail Boot” play against the Georgia Bulldogs. The Bulldogs had taken a 3-point lead and the Vols had the ball at about the Bulldog 45 with just :04 left in the game.

All of a sudden, Dobbs launches one deep, Jennings comes down with it, and the Vols are going crazy in the end zone because they just won the game:

Unfortunately, 2017 wasn’t as fun for Jennings and the Vols. He broke his wrist in the season-opener against Georgia Tech and missed the rest of the year. Things became worse when he was kicked off the team by interim coach Brady Hoke for a profanity-laced tirade aimed toward the coaching staff. It also marked the worst season in program history as the team finished with a 4-8 record for the first time ever.

Jeremy Pruitt reinstated Jennings in 2018 and nagging injuries limited his impact on the field. He had to undergo surgery the offseason before his senior year, but was ready to go before his final year.

2019 was the best year of Jennings’ career. His 59 receptions for 969 yards and 8 touchdowns led the Vols and were career-bests across the board. He even started the South Carolina game at quarterback.

His final year didn’t go without some controversy, though. Jennings was suspended for the first half of Vols’ bowl game against the Indiana Hoosiers after stomping on the head of a player during the season-finale against Vanderbilt.

Jennings ended up as one of the best receivers in program history, finishing fifth all-time at UT in receptions, fourth in receiving yards, and tied-for-fifth in touchdown receptions.

Pros

Jennings is a big-bodied receiver who can work the middle of the field. He’s a decent route runner who is very savvy and can manipulate his assignments. When he gets a head of steam, he’s almost like a running back flying downhill. Defensive backs stand little chance of taking him down once he gets going:

He knows how to use his size to his advantage. He’s effective at boxing out his assignments in order to get his hands on the ball and he’s an effective blocker in the run game.

The work ethic is unreal, too. Coaches will be able to correct whatever issues that can be corrected coaching-wise because Jennings will put in the time. He’ll also bring a solider- and alpha-like mentality to whichever locker room he ends up in.

Cons

A limited amount of athleticism and explosiveness is what brings Jennings down in the eyes of evaluators.

Now I’m not saying the dude isn’t athletic. You obviously have to be athletic to perform at Jennings’ level in D1 football. But when it comes to the quick-twitch, the speed, the burst out of routes and off the line of scrimmage - Jennings lacks in those areas.

He tends to lose concentration at times, too. Remember the 2019 Florida game? The Vols were down 7-0 early and managed to drive down inside of the Gators’ 10-yard line. Jarrett Guarantano tried to hit an open Jennings in the end zone, but the ball went off of Jennings’ hands and into the waiting arms of a Gator defender:

There’s also the history of suspensions. Jennings plays with a ton of passion and sometimes that can be a bad thing. GMs and coaches could look at it as a young man playing with a high level of passion that can be controlled via the proper channels or they could look at it as a red flag.

2020 NFL Draft Projection

There have been all types of projections when it comes to Jennings. Pro Football Focus had Jennings going in the first round at one point in time. CBS Sports recently had him going in the seventh round. He’s the 40th-ranked receiver according to ESPN, but CBS Sports has him at No. 20.

It’s a deep class receiver-wise, so it wouldn’t be a total shock if he went undrafted, but he has enough blue chip traits that should get him into the league.

Final projection: Late sixth round