Name: Gary Jennings Jr.
SCHOOL: West Virginia
CONFERENCE: Big 12
POSITION: Wide Receiver
JERSEY: No. 12
RECRUITMENT RATING: 3-star
WT: 215 lbs
Route Running – Jennings’ role in the offense changed between his junior and senior year, as he was asked to stretch the field more in 2018. Jennings showed excellent traits as a deep target, evidenced by his strong yards per catch rate. Vertical cuts are seamless, though he can struggle a bit more with horizontal breaks. Will occasionally need extra steps in order to motor down, and his over-the-middle routes falter as a result. However, there is a lot to like about Jenning’s technique in how he uses his hands to shed contact, use head fakes and set up defensive backs in his stem. Overall, his route running is one of his strengths.
Athleticism/Speed – Jennings is another smooth athlete who has flexibility in his hips. With a solid size and fluidity combination, he’ll easily hold up at the next level. I’m not convinced that he has elite athleticism, which could eventually limit his vertical game against NFL defensive backs. The NFL Scouting Combine should prove that he’s above average in this area.
Hands/Ball Skills – Jennings isn’t going to drop many passes, but his ball skills are only average. Rarely will he extend fully back towards the ball, and can rely on his body to make receptions at times. Has soft hands when he uses them to catch the ball, but there isn’t quite that “pluck and tuck” technique that you hope to see. Will occasionally put his hands out to the catchpoint a second early, tipping off the defensive back. Though his ball skills can be inconsistent, his tracking is a strength and he can make some ridiculous acrobatic catches as a result.
Ball Carrier – Jennings isn’t a player who will make a ton of defenders miss, but he has flexibility and contact balance. In space, this helps him as defenders really need to finish their tackles to get Jennings down. There isn’t whiten game-breaking ability after the catch, even when he was put in spots to produce in that area. However, Jennings is more than passable for the next level because of his balance.
Stalk Blocking – Jennings has a nice frame for a blocker, but he wasn’t asked to do it very often at West Virginia. When stalk blocking, there are moments of passiveness. However, he’s a successful blocker in limited reps, as his shiftiness and flexibility allow him to mirror and match defensive backs with ease. Could use more juice behind his blocks to drive defensive backs, as he can sometimes just accepts being in a good position.
Versatility – Jennings returned 34 punts and 7 kickoffs in college, though he was mostly unsuccessful. As a receiver, however, his versatility is evident. Jennings can align anywhere, produce in different roles and win in all areas of the field. While his route tree wasn’t exactly that complex, he’s shown the traits to be successful as a deep threat, which is likely how an NFL team will use him.
BEST TRAIT – Vertical Route Running
WORST TRAIT – Ball Skills
RED FLAGS – None
After a productive career at West Virginia, Jennings projects well as a role player on an NFL offense. With his combination of size and athleticism, he will be a player that sticks on a depth chart. Jennings responded well when he was heavily targeted as a junior, and easily transitioned into a new role as a primary deep threat as a senior. This versatility bodes well for his NFL projection, as he could fill multiple roles and pick up new tasks easily. Jennings was a late addition to the Senior Bowl.
Route Running –Modest route tree, ran a lot of quick game screens and vertical stems from the slot. Doesn’t showcase a whole lot of short area explosiveness at the top of routes and is more of a linear speed receiver.
Hands –Has fought the ball over the course of 2-year tenure as a starter. Does not have the softest of hands and prefers to catch passes into his chest when he’s square to the football. Predisposition to trapping ball has helped with high traffic targets, however.
Contested Catch Ability –Tough, well put together frame. Catch rate isn’t consistent because he doesn’t greet the ball away from his body all that often. Has made some pretty impressive flashes on film to show concentration while a defender is influencing him at the catch point.
Run After Catch Ability –Tough after the catch, showing good balance through soft tackle challenges and an ability to get back up to top speed quickly once he’s secured the football. Does not have a lot of creativity to force false steps if he’s brought to a stop while receiving.
Football IQ –Has gotten lost along the boundary on a handful of occasions, losing his eligibility after stepping out of bounds. Will need notable development to become a more viable receiver in all phases (route versatility, route stems, release, etc).
Vertical Receiving –Developed big plays at a higher rate in 2018, including incredible performances against Texas and Oklahoma. Open field speed is notable when afforded room to run and will blaze past flat footed defenders in zone coverage.
Change of Direction Skills –Not especially fluid or explosive. Can carry some speed through his shallow cuts and breaks off of routes but even then he doesn’t appear to have a lot of notable acceleration. Effective straight line athlete that doesn’t shine in lateral scenarios.
Speed –Acceleration and long speed on free releases are excellent and were the product of big plays down the stretch in his final season. Will successfully space the field as a deeper target and impact can be felt on making room for everyone, not just himself.
Competitive Toughness –Really likable effort player who looks to manufacture space for teammates as a blocker in the quick game. Physically strong in the open field, but can be robbed of his functional play strength when working at the LOS or trying to play around contact on stem.
Blocking Ability –Has been featured as part of the bunch on a lot of screen work and play side runs. Effort level runs high and brings a lot of power to uproot CBs thanks to his size. Mobility is more effective when he’s able to lock his hands on DBs and can mirror the edge.
BEST TRAIT – Speed
WORST TRAIT – Hands
BEST FILM – Oklahoma (2018)
WORST FILM – Iowa State (2018)
RED FLAGS – None
Gary Jennings Jr. projects as a depth target to an NFL offense that can afford him as many similarities to his offense at WVU. Jennings was used in a lot of deeper routes from the slot, where he can be afforded more room to work through his route release and find more advantageous personnel assignments. In all, Jennings has a few plus qualities but shouldn’t be regarded as a potential starter in the NFL due to his restrictions in ball skills and effectiveness on the boundary.