Will 4-Star QB Jauan Jennings Commit to a Big Ten or SEC Powerhouse?

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Will 4-Star QB Jauan Jennings Commit to a Big Ten or SEC Powerhouse?
Credit: 247Sports

Quarterback Jauan Jennings is nearing the finish line of a frenzied recruiting process. The 4-star prospect from Murfreesboro, Tenn. has limited his list to six programs and plans to announce a decision April 7, reports AL.com writer Wesley Sinor.

Jennings, a 6'4", 185-pound Blackman High School junior, identified Alabama, Ohio State, Auburn, Northwestern, Tennessee and Mississippi State as teams still under consideration. His other offers include Penn State, Kentucky, Ole Miss and Nebraska.

He led Blackman to a state championship in 2013, passing for nearly 1,500 yards and 14 touchdown, per AL.com. Jennings starred as a dynamic offensive threat, adding 815 yards and 10 scores on the ground.

With just six squads and one week remaining in his recruitment, it's crunch time for all coaches involved. Jennings' recent campus visits will surely come into play as he continues to pare down an expansive list of collegiate options.

“I’m really just going to take it slow and figure out if I should go there or not. And that’s with all of them,” he told 247Sports. “April 7 is just going to be a big day.”

We examine each situation, aiming to find the right fit for this promising playmaker.

 

Auburn

The Tigers welcomed Jennings to campus last week as part of an impressive guest list. Days before his arrival, Auburn hosted 5-star Florida quarterback Torrance Gibson.

Head coach Gus Malzahn has parlayed an SEC championship into increased interest along the recruiting trail. Elite high school quarterbacks are compelled by the Tigers' ability to attack opposing defenses in so many ways.

Auburn already landed Tyler Queen, a 4-star passer from Georgia. He committed last July, but that hasn't prevented Malzahn from exploring other options at the position.

The Tigers may be intent on taking in two quarterbacks this year, but that presents obvious issues for any recruit.

Competition for playing time in the SEC is already intense. It gets even steeper when you add another talented quarterback in the same class.

It's certainly a situation Jennings must assess and there's a chance that Auburn—along with several of his finalists—view him as an eventual wide receiver or safety. Either way, he respects the culture Malzahn has created in such a short time.

"(Auburn) is a winning program," he told AL.com. "I like the way coaches have positive attitudes."

 

Tennessee

Jennings will travel to Knoxville this weekend, per 247Sports, setting the stage for Volunteers head coach Butch Jones to showcase his program to a top in-state talent. He again follows in the footsteps of Gibson, who spent time at Tennessee last week.

Jones has done an outstanding job selling his vision to prospects within state borders. He's attempting to build off an outstanding 2014 recruiting class that featured more than 30 players and promises to immediately impact the Volunteers roster.

Jennings understands the community aspect that's in place at Tennessee and could be swayed to stay within a few hours of his home town.

He spoke in general terms to 247Sports about the community aspect at Tennessee.

One thing about Tennessee is, if anyone ever goes to Tennessee, the first and foremost thing they’re going to point out is their fans. Their fans there, they do a great job of keeping you up and just making sure that you’re doing the right things. That’s one of my favorite things about UT.

Tennessee doesn't currently hold a quarterback commitment. Along with Gibson, the team hosted 4-star New Mexico passer Zach Gentry last week.

Credit: 247Sports
Jennings aims to play quarteback at the next level.

 

Ohio State

The appeal of Ohio State for Jennings should be clear given head coach Urban Meyer's track record of producing successful dual-threat quarterbacks. Ohio State is targeting several prospects who fit the bill, but the dynamic Tennessee star has emerged as a premier recruit for the program.

He visited Columbus last season, gaining a firsthand experience of how the university operates on game day. Jennings watched the Buckeyes vanquish Penn State and spent time touring facilities.

Meyer has an excellent track record of procuring talent from SEC territory, evidenced again by two early 2015 Florida commits. The Buckeyes will be looking for a new starting quarterback next season, though Jennings is more likely to receive a redshirt than a substantial role as a freshman.

 

Mississippi State

The Bulldogs have quietly put together one of the nation's most impressive 2015 classes. A commitment from Jennings would vault Mississippi State into the upper echelon of SEC squads in terms of prospect pledges and provide hope for a potential rise in conference standings.

The Bulldogs boast commitments from talented in-state pass target Dontea Jones and top-rated junior college receiver Donald Gray, who originally signed with the team in 2013. Jennings received an offer from Mississippi State during his junior campaign and has kept the program on his radar since.

Sophomore Dak Prescott was impressive last season, capping off the campaign with a three-touchdown performance in the Liberty Bowl. He's entrenched as the Bulldogs' starting quarterback, but the team needs depth behind him.

Jennings is an ideal candidate to spend a couple seasons watching Prescott's development from the sideline. Mississippi State could groom him as an understudy and eventually pass the job along to Jennings.

 

Northwestern

The Wildcats finished 5-7 last season, but have gained considerable respectability during head coach Pat Fitzgerald's tenure. Northwestern is just one year removed from a 10-win campaign that concluded with a victory in the Gator Bowl.

The program is still searching for its first 2015 commit and should be viewed as an underdog in this race. Northwestern may not crack top recruiting rankings on a consistent basis, but Fitzgerald has shown he can land quality quarterbacks.

The Wildcats signed 4-star passer Clayton Thorson in February. Jennings would provide a level of athleticism that is currently lacking in Northwestern's offensive backfield.

Though he could be tempted to play in the Big Ten Conference, a commitment to the Wildcats would be viewed as a leap of faith. Northwestern doesn't have the sustained track record of most teams on this list.

Jeff Haynes
Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald has his team in the mix.

 

Alabama

The Crimson Tide have collected four consecutive national No. 1 recruiting classes, stockpiling talent at every position. Whether it's quarterback, safety or receiver, Jennings would face incomparable challenges in his journey to playing time.

Head coach Nick Saban lost his grips on 5-star California quarterback Ricky Town in January, leaving another promising recruiting class with an obvious need. Alabama changed offensive coordinators following the 2013 season, with former USC and Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin taking over play-calling duties.

It remains to be seen how his presence will ultimately alter Alabama's approach, but Jennings clearly likes what he's hearing from the Crimson Tide staff, saying this to AL.com.

(Alabama) has a great history and a great head coach and coaching staff in general. Alabama's a school you just can't count out. They like the ability and potential I have, it's just a matter of how bad I want it.

Where will 4-star QB Jauan Jennings play college football?

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The Verdict

If Jennings determines Tennessee truly envisions him at quarterback for the long term, a commitment to the Volunteers makes plenty of sense. Butch Jones is building an outstanding foundation that should pay dividends on both sides of the ball in the near future.

Tennessee didn't sign a quarterback in February, creating a two-year gap between any incoming passer and those currently present on the Vols' roster. Jennings would have an opportunity to fight for the starting job as an underclassmen, just as Tennessee's lauded new additions are hitting their stride. 

 

Recruit information courtesy of 247Sports unless otherwise noted.

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