Gary Jennings made some national headlines this season for playing his part on the WVU football team.
He helped acclimate quarterback Will Grier to the Mountaineers while being on the receiving end of many big plays during the regular season. He started just one game prior to the 2017 season and made an immediate impact when he was trusted with a starting spot this year.
Jennings caught at least two passes in each game this season but his production really fell off when Chris Chugunov was making the start at quarterback in the final two games. Jennings caught two passes for 14 yards against Oklahoma and three for 66 yards against Utah.
He fared better than leading receiver David Sills, though, as the Biletnikoff Award finalist did not get one catch in the Heart of Dallas Bowl. Utah’s defense had a good gameplan on defense to bottle up Sills. It worked out well, but it also helped that Chugunov was not able to get much going by throwing the ball.
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Other teams have tried to key on Sills this season and that will definitely happen next year, too. That’s why Jennings will lead the Mountaineers in receptions and yards in 2018. Sills finished with 980 yards this season and Jennings had a few more with 1,096. Where Sills really stood out this season was in the end zone as he was the nation’s leading scorer with 18 touchdowns. Despite all the yards Jennings recorded, he had just one touchdown. That score came in the first game of the year against Virginia Tech.
Predicting that Jennings will be the best receiver for the WVU football team next season isn’t a real big stretch, but it is considering the team will be loaded at receiver. Just like Jennings, and maybe to an extent Sills, surprised some people with their performances, another breakout candidate will emerge in 2018.
Grier will also be throwing to T.J. Simmons, who transferred in fro Alabama. He already has the pedigree to succeed and the tools around him to thrive in the WVU football offense. Jennings, Sills and Marcus Simms are all coming back next season with something to prove, so the competition will bring out the best in everybody.
Jennings showed the ability to haul in the long play and fight for yards after the catch. With a little more trust in his hands, he should be able to be even better in 2018.