KNOXVILLE — Whether he is celebrating after an impressive catch during practice or leading a “Go Vols” cheer during an autograph session, Tennessee wide receiver Jauan Jennings always seem to have something to say.
Jennings added to his boisterous reputation during an interview with media on Thursday. Asked if he is the alpha male of the wide receivers group, Jennings responded: “I’m the alpha male anywhere I go.”
As fall camp concludes its first full week, the Vols’ active leader in receptions, receiving yards and touchdown receptions is his usual self in many aspects. New wide receivers coach Tee Martin, though, said Jennings has taken important strides in others
He’s leading by example in a positive way.
“Jauan wants the ball, which is good,” Martin said. “Every receiver should have that kind of want to get the ball. It was a little emotional at times. I really watched him grow toward the end of spring (to a guy who) understands what his role is. ‘Now let me just go out and play hard every play.’”
Martin said Jennings’ maturity carried over into the summer when he took freshman wide receiver Ramel Keyton under his wing. Martin even said it was a sign of maturity that Jennings cut his hair.
As Jennings answered questions from reporters on Thursday, it was clear he has adopted the company line by giving credit to every player in a position group or every player on the team rather than singling out anyone — especially himself.
Asked to respond to Martin’s claim that he has matured, Jennings said, ‘Not just me, but the whole team.’
“He’s listening to the things we’re asking him to do,” Martin said. “It’s his last year, and I think he understands the importance of having a good season during his senior year.”
As much as his more focused attitude can play a role in that, the addition of Jim Chaney as offensive coordinator could be important, too.
Jennings said he has been impressed with Chaney’s contribution, noting his expanded playbook and his ability to put players in match-ups they can win. It’s enough for Jennings to expect the Vols to be more explosive in 2019.
He expects to be more explosive himself, too. Jennings still is recovering from knee surgery, but he is on the schedule the team set for him before surgery. Noting that he “came out of surgery walking,” Jennings said everything is fine.
It is not out of the question that the training staff would suggest he take a day or two off, but Jennings said he would say no. He wants to grind with his teammates.
“We’re trying to manage it, but I’m still practicing 100 percent,” he said. “You don’t see a black jersey on me. I feel good. I tell coach, ‘Don’t hold anything back.’”