Eye on the prize: Tigers’ pass-rushing phenom has sights set on 4A state titlePublished 12:15pm Tuesday, August 13, 2013
There are many ways to describe Dadeville defensive end Anfernee Jennings.
The general consensus is likely that he’s a beast of a player that is the next in a long line of dominating Dadeville defensive linemen.
But if you ask the junior what he is, he’d tell you he is focused.
“You can look at the walls of our field house and see that we haven’t had a state championship since 1981,” Jennings said. “We’ve had the opportunity to win one the last few years. I’m focused on helping Dadeville add more championships before I’m gone.”
Unfortunately for opponents, Jennings has plenty of time left to wreak havoc on the Tigers’ front line while on the way to that elusive brass ring.
The 6-foot-3, 235-pounder enters his junior season as perhaps the most highly touted player in the area.
After all, his resume is almost as decorated as it can get.
College offers? Check. Arkansas and Mississippi State have expressed their desire to get Jennings in their fold.
All-State selection? Check. Having 96 tackles and five sacks as a sophomore will get you that kind of distinction.
Nationwide recognition? ESPN has named Jennings one of the top 300 junior players in the nation.
With all of that said, what’s left for Jennings to accomplish?
“Having an All-State selection on my resume, having a couple offers and being named to the ESPN 300 list, I’m fairly proud of what I’ve accomplished,” Jennings said. “But, I’d rather not even focus on myself. I’m trying to get better to help my team because I want that ring.”
As a result, the fearsome pass rusher is looking for new ways to better himself and better the team. If that means putting in work when most people aren’t, then so be it. Jennings said one of the things he has done to improve his game has been working when he should be resting.
“Every Sunday, my uncle, my cousin and I come to the practice field and work on footwork drills,” he said. “After that, I make sure I get a run in.”
For Jennings, the physical tools are already there. In addition to his imposing stature, his max bench press is 285 pounds. His max squat is 400 pounds.
He also runs a 4.7 second 40-yard dash, which should help him as he lines up as the Tigers’ No. 1 tight end.
In addition, he has the acumen to be a student of the game, as evidenced by his 3.7 GPA in the classroom.
For the matchup nightmare, it’s time for him to truly put it all together and take hold of a leadership position for the team.
“I’m very excited about the challenge,” Jennings said. “I have to step up, and I know I have to be one of the leaders on the team. I’ve been out here for a couple of years so whatever I do, I know people are watching me, and some of the players look up to me. So, I have to help lead the team in the direction we want to go.”
When asked how the Tigers would get to their planned destination, Jennings said it’s all about the work ethic.
“We have to work hard, get after it in practice and go big when we get the chance,” Jennings said. “If we do all of that and do what the coaches tell us, we’ll get to where we want to go.”
While Jennings knows that he is capable of excellence, he hasn’t allowed the publicity and extra spotlight to rattle him. If anything, it motivates him to bring the team front and center.
“People told me that if I worked hard, I’d be a beast,” he said. “Now that I’ve gotten older, I realize that I do have that potential. I just have to keep working hard. I’m not focused on individual stuff. I’m concerned with getting a state championship.”
However, despite Jennings’ team-first mentality and championship aspirations, there is one thing that he wants for himself.
“I want to be dominant on both sides of the ball– whatever helps my team,” he said.
If Jennings’ track record is any indication, then Dadeville can expect a lot of help from its pass-rushing and pass-catching phenom. And that doesn’t bode well for potential Tiger prey.
See The Outlook throughout the month of August for player profiles of The Outlook’s Super 12 team leading to the kickoff of the 2013 season.