Jennings: “I’m the Leader, So We’re Going to Get This Right”

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    Photo by Jake Nichols/RTI

    On Monday, Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt was asked about which players on his roster are leaders for the team. The second-year head coach didn’t name any players specifically in his answer, but one player who immediately popped into Vol fans’ heads when the question was asked was redshirt senior wide receiver Jauan Jennings.

    For Jennings, Saturday’s loss to Georgia State was an unacceptable result, and he’s going to do everything in his power to make sure something like that never happens again as long as he’s in UT’s program.

    Jennings met with the media on Tuesday, and he was asked all about Saturday’s loss to the Panthers and how he and his teammates will move forward from that game. The fifth-year receiver was one of the few bright spots in the loss, as he set a career-high with seven catches and hauled in a touchdown along with 108 receiving yards.

    The veteran wideout admitted that Georgia State was the more prepared team on Saturday, but he stated that the game is now in the past, and it’s time to focus on BYU.

    “It showed up in the final score. They prepared better I guess, and they executed better,” Jennings said. “But we’re just gonna leave that in the past.

    “I’m kinda off last week. It’s in the past to me. This upcoming week is the only game that matters.”

    While he may not want to talk about the game against Georgia State to the media, Jennings sure isn’t letting his teammates forget about the Vols’ historically bad loss this past Saturday.

    “I’m going to let these guys know that what happened last weekend is unacceptable, and it won’t happen again,” Jennings stated. “We just continue to prepare for this weekend, and as a leader, I make sure they just keep their heads up.”

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    As for the game itself, Jennings doesn’t believe his teammates were lacking in energy; what the fifth-year senior believes the issue was pertains to the team’s inability to assert their will over what should’ve been an inferior opponent.

    “I wouldn’t say we didn’t have any energy, but we just didn’t have the assertiveness,” Jennings explained. “We just gotta come out there and put it together real quick and just know this weekend is the only game we have to worry about.

    “This past Saturday, I feel like this team, they weren’t juiced up on the sideline. As a leader, I take full responsibility for that. I gotta be out there, and I gotta have hands in the air 24/7. As a leader, I admit that I did not do that. This week and from here on out, that’s what I’m going to focus on doing is making sure that this team knows we have a lot of fight left in us, and we’re not going to give up.”

    But why exactly was the energy lacking? Why didn’t the team have the assertiveness that Jennings feels is necessary for UT to have success?

    The veteran receiver may not have the specific answer to that question, but he’s making it his responsibility to ensure that kind of approach never happens again in 2019.

    “Maybe because it’s a young team,” Jennings said when asked why that mentality was lacking on Saturday. “I really couldn’t tell you. Like I said, I take full responsibility for that, I should’ve helped them get awake and ready to go. From the time the clock starts to the time it ends, I should’ve been up in their heads, and I didn’t do that, so I take full responsibility.”

    Jennings specified that moving forward, he’s going to make sure his teammates have the right energy at practice. He doesn’t want anyone to come to the practice field with “no energy.” Instead, he says he and the rest of the team must have high energy “each and every day” on the practice field.

    “That’s how we’re going to do this thing from here on out,” Jennings said. “This team believes in me, and I believe in them.

    “I didn’t sign up for a one-game fight. This is a 12-game fight. That’s what we’re going to do each and every week from here on out.”

    The quality of Tennessee’s leadership on the roster has come into question after Saturday’s debacle, and both Jeremy Pruitt and Jauan Jennings were asked about it after the loss. Pruitt didn’t give out any names when asked who UT’s leaders are, but Jennings had a name to offer up.

    Himself.

    “I am the leader, so we’re going to get this right,” Jennings stated. “I’m not worried about anything else other than this team and what we got going here. It’s a great program with great people here, and a lot of people here with a lot of talent that are ready to go out and execute, and we’re going to get that done.”

    Only around 85,000 fans showed up for Saturday’s game, and many had already left Neyland Stadium before the second half began. Many more were gone before Georgia State scored their final touchdown in the fourth quarter.

    Jennings knows the Vols let down Tennessee fans on Saturday, but he’s asking for the Vol faithful to give him and his teammates one more chance to make things right. He promised that Saturday’s game against BYU will be worth attending.

    “Come out, show out, and we’re going to come out and execute for you all,” Jennings said to Vol fans. “Just can’t wait to see y’all there. It’s going to be a hell of a game.”

    Tennessee kicks off their contest against BYU at 7:00 PM Eastern in Neyland Stadium this Saturday, September 7th.



    Nathanael Rutherford
    Nathanael Rutherford is the managing editor and social media manager for Rocky Top Insider. Nathanael graduated from the University of Tennessee and cultivated a passion for the Vols while growing up in Knoxville a mere 10 minutes from Neyland Stadium. He's been a part of the RTI team since November of 2015 and has been the editor of RTI since June of 2017. If he's not talking or writing about Tennessee athletics, he's probably talking about Star Wars.