On Friday night, Tennessee ended their NFL Draft drought when edge rusher Darrell Taylor was taken with the 48th overall pick in the second round by the Seattle Seahawks. On Saturday afternoon, another of Taylor’s teammates got to realize their NFL dreams.
Wide receiver Jauan Jennings came off the board on Saturday with the 217th overall pick in the seventh round, being picked by the San Francisco 49ers.
Jennings is the first Vol wideout to be selected in the NFL Draft since Josh Malone went 128th overall in the fourth round of the 2017 draft. Jennings’ former Vol teammate was taken by the Cincinnati Bengals in 2017.
For the 49ers, Jennings is the first Vol they’ve taken in the NFL Draft since they selected defensive lineman Parys Haralson with the 140th overall pick in the fifth round of the 2006 draft. Jennings is the 11th Vol ever to be drafted by San Francisco. Cory Fleming (1994) and Cedrick Wilson (2001) were other UT wideouts to be drafted by the 49ers.
The 6-foot-3, 210-pound receiver from Murfreesboro, TN didn’t test well at the 2020 NFL Combine, but his production on the field spoke louder than his numbers at the combine.
Jennings capped off his Tennessee career with a stellar senior season, leading the Vols in receptions (59), receiving yards (969), and receiving touchdowns (8). Jennings played some wildcat quarterback for the Vols as well, totaling 51 rushing yards and a touchdown on 13 carries.
In his Vol career, Jennings scored 18 receiving touchdowns, two passing touchdowns, and a rushing touchdown. He also picked off a pass as a sophomore.
The Tennessee native had two of the biggest catches in recent Vol history in his sophomore season in 2016, hauling in the game-winning Hail Mary against Georgia and burning Florida cornerback Jalen “Teez” Tabor for a 67-yard touchdown in the Vols’ first win against the Gators since 2004.
It wasn’t all sunshine and roses for Jennings at Tennessee, though. He suffered a season-ending wrist injury in the Vols’ season opener against Georgia Tech in 2017 and ultimately was dismissed from the football team before Tennessee’s season finale against Vanderbilt later that season.
But once Phillip Fulmer replaced John Currie as Athletics Director and Jeremy Pruitt was hired as head coach, Jennings was able to work his way back onto the team.
Pruitt laid out strict guidelines that Jennings had to follow in order to be welcomed back to the roster, and Jennings followed those rules and more. He was eventually reinstated prior to the 2018 season and was productive despite working through a knee injury during the year.
Jennings led all FBS wide receivers in 2019 with 30 broken tackles according to the Pro Football Focus college division. He rarely went down on first contact, and he was Tennessee’s go-to receiver target throughout most of the season.
In five seasons with the Vols, Jennings appeared in 50 games and finished scattered throughout Tennessee’s record books. Jennings finished fourth in career receiving yards (2,153), fifth in receptions (146), and tied for fifth in receiving touchdowns (18). He also totaled six games of 100 or more receiving yards in his UT career, with four of those instances coming in the 2019 season.