Blackman’s Jauan Jennings is so talented in basketball that several college coaches have said he has the potential to be a top 200 player nationally.
It’s not even his best sport.
The junior quarterback has committed to Tennessee after leading the Blaze to the Class 6A semifinals last season.
In the spring, he ran track, helping the 4×200-meter relay team reach the Class AAA meet.
Those are among the reasons Jennings is The Tennessean 2014 boys athlete of the year.
“He’s a dynamic athlete in everything that he does,” said Philip Shadowens, who coaches Jennings in football and track.
Jennings reminds Shadowens of a quarterback he coached at Smyrna, Sonny Gray. The Bulldogs won 5A titles with Gray in 2006 and 2007.
“Sonny was known as a thrower, but yet he ran the ball really effectively in the pocket,” Shadowens said. “And Jauan is a lot like that. Jauan probably doesn’t have as big an arm as Sonny. There’s probably no one in Middle Tennessee that’s had that kind of arm. That’s the reason he’s the No. 1 pitcher for the A’s right now, but Jauan has some of those same characteristics that all of the great ones have.”
Jennings saw limited time on defense, but Shadowens said if Jennings were a full-time safety “he’d be the best one in the state also.”
Success follows the 6-foot-4, 186-pounder to whatever spot he tries.
“That’s a kid that seems to be able to succeed at whatever he does, whatever position he’s playing, whatever sport he’s playing,” said Barton Simmons, director of football scouting for 247Sports.com. “For him to be able to do the things he can do at the size that he’s at, with the length he has, he’s just a really unique kid from an athletic perspective.”
Jennings, the state tournament MVP, led Blackman (28-6) to its first Class AAA title in basketball. It was the first boys basketball championship for a Rutherford County team since Central won in 1965. He averaged 12.3 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists as a guard/forward.
“With his size and strength and his feel for the game, I think he’s a top 200 player,” Blaze basketball coach Barry Wortman said. “I hear that from college coaches who came into practice and watched him play.”
Jennings also ran in the 4×100 relay and 200 in track. He ran primarily to get faster in football.
Athleticism runs in Jennings’ family. His older sister, Alexis, will be a freshman basketball player at Kentucky next season. His younger brother, Kendal, is a 6-8 junior basketball player in Atlanta.
Jennings had narrowed down his football decision to Alabama, Auburn, Mississippi State, Ohio State, Northwestern and Tennessee.
“All the people, the environment, the Southern hospitality — I just loved everything about Tennessee,” Jennings said. “I always knew football was going to be the sport I was going to play in college. Basketball was always something to compete in and I just love competing so why not?”
Reach Chip Cirillo at 615-664-2194 and on Twitter @ChipCirillo.
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