West Virginia’s Jennings Ready for Final Season

MORGANTOWN — For a wide receiver it’s not always the catches you make that you remember most, it’s the one that got away.

That is the case when it comes to West Virginia’s Gary Jennings Jr. as the senior-to-be heads into his final season.

“Yea, they (the uncaught passes) haunt you as a receiver,” Jennings said, who led the Mountaineers with 97 catches for 1,096 yards in 2017. “You go back into the locker room after the game and beat yourself up a little over those.

“But, at the end of the day you look at the season as a whole and ask, ‘What can I do to make us better next year?'”

For now, it’s the day-to-day drag better known as the summer.

“There’s not much different (in terms of the workouts), but as far as extra work goes that is sort of mandatory.

“We are always eager to get better – catching balls, extra footwork, whatever we can do. We put in a tremendous amount of hard work to be the receiving corps that we were last year, and we are doing double that this year to be even that much better.”

And WVU fans can’t wait to see just how much better this year’s passing attack will be with the return of Jennings, preseason All American David Sills V and rising sophomore speedster Marcus Simms on the receiving end of senior Heisman Trophy candidate Will Grier’s passes.

“Conversations were made,” Jennnings said. “We figured out that if everyone came back it could be a very special year. (My career) has definitely flown by. I just can’t wait to go out with a bang.”

A bang which hopefully ends with a Big 12 championship and a berth in the national championship playoff.

“That’s always our goal. Playing in the Big 12 is always a challenge,” Jennings said. “We know we have the talent, but can we develop the mental toughness it is going to take a lot to go into places like Texas and come out with a win.”

Despite sharing the limelight with Sills, Simms and the departed Ka’Raun White, Jennings opened enough eyes to earn an All-Big 12 Second Team mention by Lindy’s, Athlon Sports and Phil Steele.

The analysts for Lindy’s also thought enough of the Stafford, Virginia native to select Colonial Forge High School product as its Best Hands in the Big 12 and No. 15 national wide receiver.

Phil Steele lists the 6-foot, 2-inch pass catcher as the No. 24 wide receiver on its list of Top Draft Eligible Players.

“Having a player like Gary (Jennings) makes it difficult for defenses to lean its coverage toward one side,” Sills said. “If they lean the coverage toward me then he’s going to have one-on-one coverage. If they lean toward him, then I’ll have the one-on-one.

“Throw in Marcus (Simms), T.J. (Simmons) and our tight ends and this could be one of the best receiving corps we’ve had.”

One that matches the 2012 corps which included NFL draft picks Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey?

“I don’t know about that,” Jennings said. “But, we feel like we have enough playmakers that defenses will have their work cut out for them trying to cover all of us.”

West Virginia opens its 2018 campaign at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C., on Saturday, Sept. 1, when it tangles with Southeastern Conference member Tennessee at 3:30 p.m. The game will be televised by CBS.

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