Scout/BamaMag.com arrived in Dadeville (Ala.) on Thursday for a look at the 2014 version of the Tigers, and its star player looked plenty different from the last time he'd been seen by the network.
Anfernee Jennings was up considerably in weight, but it wasn't bad weight, as he filled out in his upper-body with added muscle. Now playing at 260 pounds, the three-star Alabama commitment looked more like a traditional defensive end, though he continues to play plenty of offense for one of the area's top teams.
On this day, against Sylacauga (Ala.) High, Jennings impressed with a handful of tackles (video below), a sack and a pair of receptions as a tight end. His touchdown grab was of course the highlight of the night, for multiple reasons. The obvious was its head-turning quality as the rising-senior snagged the football with one hand while falling down, but the other was where it came from. Class of 2016 prospect Shawndarius Jennings, the Tide verbal's little brother, was the trigger man.
"I never thought in a billion years (that would happen)," he said. "I always thought he'd be a defensive player because he's crazy in the head, a hard-hitter like a safety. My mom was crying, I believe.
"It was a good feeling. It's just a spring game, but we've been practicing it all summer, working on this connection and the chemistry with one another. By the season we should be ready to go, there will be plenty more of those."
The Tigers were able to hold on for a win, with the starters only playing the first two quarters, and it was Jennings that was on everybody's mind throughout the night. His "new" body was a common topic, especially after seeing him play just as disruptively as many have become accustomed to.
"I had to gain weight," he said. "I actually tried to gain weight, but also to stay in shape so I can be able to move and all of that. I changed my whole mindset in the weight room, so I went harder. It started right after football season last year.
Jennings gained nearly 30 pounds this offseason
"I wanted to change my ways to get better. I knew if I got stronger, it would be better. If I'm bigger, it would be easier."
6-foot-3, 260 pounds is a good listing for Jennings, he says, though there was never a goal number he wanted to reach. As for the Alabama side of things, he's been in contact with the staff since the change.
"I'm just going to tighten up now, I'm as big as I need to be," he said. "But for college, it's wherever I need to be. As long as I can move. I guess if I can't move, I'll play three-technique. I don't plan on getting that big, but if I do I guess I'd be okay playing that."
Further proving that the added weight hasn't slowed him, he played several positions on Thursday night, including a stand-up outside linebacker. That goes directly with the Crimson Tide's initial projection of him playing the JACK position at the second level.
It's all part of the reason he remains on Nick Saban's commitment list despite visits to several schools this spring and more planned for the summer.
"I'm pretty solid right now, I'm going to continue to travel and see if there is anywhere else that I can feel comfortable at," he said. "Can anyone compete with Alabama? That's a high quality offer for me, so I'm pretty solid with them right now."
Jennings said Clemson, Georgia, Auburn , Southern Miss, Mississippi State, Arkansas and Louisville come after him the hardest in addition to the Tide, and a trip to Nebraska is likely this summer as well.
A closer trip may be worth as much as any he's taken to this point if Shawndarius (6-foot-2, 210 pounds) can turn his ascent into scholarship offers.
"I'm thinking about going to Alabama for the camp with my little brother. I pray for his offer every night," Jennings said. "I want him to have the same opportunity as me because it's a fun, once in a lifetime chance. I just want him to see how it really feels, it's a great feeling."
Video highlights of Jennings, wearing No. 13 in black, from the game are available below.
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