You may know Rashad Jennings as a running back for the Jacksonville Jaguars. He's a bright young man with all the talent in the world to survive in the NFL, but also after his football career is over. Coming out of Liberty University, Rashad was a three-year starter and set Big South records in rushing yards, rushing attempts, 100 yard games and touchdowns. Now that he's in the NFL, he's hungry for even more accomplishments. He finished his rookie campaign with 202 yards and 1 touchdown on 39 carries to go along with his 101 yards on 16 receptions. He looks to make even more of an impact this upcoming season, and he has all the ability to do so. I took the time to talk with Rashad, and this is what he had to say.
BW: Thank you Rashad for this opportunity to interview you, it is greatly appreciated. This time last year, you were getting ready for the NFL draft. What were the emotions like?
RJ: Preparing for the draft is hectic. Excited, nervous, anxious, you get every emotion. Having to prove your talent in only a few drills. You go in with the mind set that you only have one day to make an impression. Then being on the field competing against the NFL talent. Getting ready for the draft is just crazy.
BW: You were selected in the seventh round of the draft, what was it like to finally get the news informing you that you were selected?
RJ: It's a funny story. When I first got selected I was expected to go a bit higher. I was there in the 7th round and God had other plans. I was there with my family and everyone is super excited. We see my name scroll across the ticker. Picked up the phone and said hello. They said "Are you ready to be a Jacksonville Jaguar?" I was like "Yea". I was ready all day. As soon as I said yea, I lost service. The phone hung up, and me being a rookie, I didn't know what to do. When they called back, we just talked it out and I felt relief. I feel any player not the 1st pick in the draft should play with a chip on their shoulder. Just being in the NFL though, it's exciting.
BW: Your first career touchdown came against Kansas City in week 9 of the season. What was that feeling like?
RJ: The first touchdown, Maurice had to tie his shoe, and they told me "Rashad go in". Went in, we ran outside zone, I got one on one with the safety and made him miss. I didn't even expect to be in. When you cross that line for the first time, you're super excited, it felt like crossing into a different world. No way to explain it. Makes you humble, makes you hungry for more.
BW: Who got you into football in the very beginning?
RJ: I was motivated by watching my brothers play. They played in college and some in the NFL. I was never pressured to play. In fact my mom wanted me to play something else. I just enjoyed it and loved the game.
BW: What part of your game do you feel you need to work on the most?
RJ: I want to be even more of a student of the game. I want to continue building on the little things. I was told it's not what you know, it's what you do with what you know. Football is a chess match. You have to know where everything is, where the opposition will be. So, being a student of the game and slowing the game down is something I'm always going to want to improve on.
BW: What's an off-season like with Rashad Jennings?
RJ: I do a lot of community work in the off-season and on Tuesday during the season since that's our day off. So I'll stretch and watch game film, then do community work. During the off-season I spend time with my family. Having fun with my family. I just got to see my nephews play in their little basketball league. It's funny, watching them shoot at the wrong basket, picking their noses, it's funny to watch. I'm a jokester so I'm always laughing and smiling. I also love guitar. There's so much more to me than just a football player.
BW: What was it like learning under Kennedy Pola and Mike Tice? What adjustments do you think should be made with them gone?
RJ: I love both of the coaches. They have great experience and are great to be around. KP is a great, motivational coach. He teaches technique till you understand, and teaches you in a way that you do understand. He molded a great foundation for me to build upon. I'm always going to appreciate him. He was my first NFL coach and he taught me a lot. I'm very glad for that. It was great watching and learning from Mike Tice as well. He's a great coach. The way to adjust is you bring in someone with the same qualities and someone thats knows the game and how to teach it.
BW: What are some of the things you've learned from Maurice Jones-Drew?
RJ: Learning from Maurice is a great experience. We actually lived together for 2 months before the draft. We trained together and learned about each other. We were both surprised when I was drafted by Jacksonville, so when I got down there I told him let's just continue rolling. He's a great man to learn from. He's a student of the game and works hard to improve.
BW: Do you think you would have went higher in the draft had you gone stayed at Pittsburgh?
RJ: Everybody asks that, and honestly, it doesn't matter. All the scouts asked me that too. If I stayed at Pittsburgh, who would've started, me or McCoy? I went to college with two goals. Play at the next level, and earn my double major. I did both of those. I went to Liberty and it was all in God's hands. I got to be with my family back home, take care of the house, plus go to college, plus earn my degree and play at the next level. I'm just happy to be where I am.
BW: Last thing Rashad, what words of advice would you give to those trying to follow their dreams as you have?
RJ: Get my book I'm writing (laughs). There's not one specific way, but there is a formula for everybody. Whatever you want to do, there's a formula to get to where you want. That formula always starts with passion. And you've got to understand what passion is. It's something you're driven by. It's somebody taking their time to commit to what they want to do. I woke up every morning saying I want to be the best running back, not I want to be in the NFL. You've got to start with little things. You work hard, have a passion for what you're doing and never give up.
BW: Thanks again for taking the time out to do this interview, it is an honor to speak with you. Good luck this upcoming season and for the rest of your career.
RJ: I appreciate that, thanks!
I really want to thank Rashad for this. He's an awesome, humble man and he deserves nothing but the best in his future.
By Brandon Williams (a.k.a. Gage)