Next week, Gary Jennings could very well get a phone call that will change his life. Before that happens, it’s good to take a look back at how he got there.
Jennings possesses two attributes that are attractive to NFL scouts: athleticism and the ability to show growth.
Mountaineer fans will best remember Jennings’s speed showcased in two big plays in two huge games: the win at Texas and the loss at Oklahoma. Both plays are essentially the same: lined up in the right slot, he takes off on a seam route, burning the receivers and winning the footrace for a touchdown.
Even before these plays topped off his highlight reel, Jennings was showing off his speed, and that was recognized by his coaches. Jennings put in time as a primary punt returner during his freshman and sophomore seasons. Oh, and he was puncturing secondaries for touchdowns back then, too:
Fast forward to 2019. Jennings shows up to the NFL Combine hoping to get some eyes, and his 4.42 second run at the 40-yard dash (among other good showings) surely did.
Not only is Jennings an athlete to be coveted, but he showed great growth during his time in Morgantown. In his first two seasons, he scored a combined 3 touchdowns. In his junior year, which was far from a failure, definitely lacked touchdowns, but still saw a huge boom in yards (from 116 in 2016 to 1096 in 2017).
He seemed to take notice of this number, as he closed out his career with 13 touchdowns in his senior season.
Jennings kept this momentum going into the Senior Bowl, in which he competed for one last time against some of the top college talent from across the country. Once again, he turned heads with his performance.
If you were to ask most pundits today, Jennings is projected to be a mid-round draft pick. There is a lot of great wide receiver talent in this year’s draft class, so he has not gotten as much attention as he might have in other years — but there is no question that he is on the radars of several franchises. If a team decides to pick him early, they may be taking a risk on a worthy talent. If he falls, however, he could become one of this year’s best steals.