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Liberty's Jennings Selected By Jaguars In NFL Draft
Rashad Jennings became the first Liberty Flames football player taken in the NFL Draft in nearly two decades, as the running back was selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars, Sunday afternoon, in the seventh round of the collegiate player draft.
Jennings, who was the 250th overall selection in the draft, was the first of two seventh-round picks by the Jaguars and one of nine overall players taken by Jacksonville during the two-day selection event.
Besides Jennings, the AFC South program also drafted Virginia offensive tackle Eugene Monroe (first round/eighth pick), Arizona offensive tackle Eben Britton (second round/39th pick), Temple defensive tackle Terrance Knighton (third round/72nd pick), William & Mary cornerback Derek Cox (third round/73rd pick), Arizona wide receiver Mike Thomas (fourth round/107th pick), Rice wide receiver Jarett Dillard (fifth round/144th pick), Nebraska tight end Zach Miller (sixth round/180th pick) and Rutgers Tiquan Underwood (seventh round/253rd pick).
Jennings becomes the sixth player in program history to hear his name called at the NFL Draft and the first since the 1990 draft, when Liberty had a pair of draftees. That year, tight end Eric Green was taken by the Pittsburgh Steelers with the 21st overall pick (first round), while defensive back Donald Smith was selected by the Minnesota Vikings in the 10th round.
The remaining trio of Flame NFL Draft picks were Fred Banks, who was taken by the Cleveland Browns in the eighth round of the 1985 draft, Kelvin Edwards, who was taken by the New Orleans Saints in the fourth round of the 1986 draft, and Richard Shelton, who was the Denver Broncos’ 10th-round selection in 1989.
Jennings also becomes the fourth player in Big South Conference history to be selected in the NFL Draft, and the third in the seventh round. Other league members also taken in the final round of the collegiate draft were Coastal Carolina quarterback Tyler Thigpen by the Minnesota Vikings in 2007 and Gardner-Webb defensive end Brian Johnston by the Kansas City Chiefs last year.
The Big South’s highest draftee was Coastal Carolina wide receiver Jerome Simpson, who was the 46th overall pick (second round) by the Cincinnati Bengals in 2008.
Jennings led the charge for Liberty’s record-breaking, 10-2 season and the team’s second-straight Big South title.
The Forest, Va., native finished last year rushing for a program and Big South-record 1,500 yards and 17 touchdowns. He ranked No. 5 nationally in rushing yards per game (136.36), No. 6 in scoring (10.36 points per game) and No. 16 in average all-purpose yards per game (153.64).
Jennings, a two-time Big South Offensive Player of the Year, was a consensus first-team All-American and finished eighth in the final voting for last year’s Walter Payton Award.
During his career, Jennings rushed for 3,633 yards, which ranks second best in program history, while setting a new program and Big South standard with 42 career rushing touchdowns. His 278 career points scored are the most ever by a Liberty student-athlete and the second most by a non-kicking player in conference history.
Jennings will not be a total stranger to Jacksonville head coach Jack Del Rio, as he, along with his Jaguars coaching staff, coached the now former Flames running back at the 2009 Under Armour Senior Bowl.
Jennings was Del Rio’s leading rusher during the all-star event, spurring this South squad to a 35-18 victory, as the running back rushed for 41 yards on nine carries.
Jennings gives Liberty a pair of Flames in the NFL, as he joins former All-Conference linebacker Vince Redd, as former Liberty players competing at the highest level of professional football. Redd signed a free agent contract with the New England Patriots in 2008 and saw action during the final three weeks of the regular season.
The two former Liberty standouts could have a chance to square off against each other in 2009. Jacksonville is slated to visit Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., on Dec. 27, during the second-to-last regular-season weekend during the upcoming NFL season.
Libery/Big South Conference