Commitment Impact: Branden Jennings To Michigan
Commitment No. 21 in Michigan's 2021 class is Jacksonville (Fla.) Sandalwood inside linebacker Branden Jennings. The lengthy defender pulled the trigger for the Wolverines yesterday giving U-M a kid with a lot of upside and positional versatility. Take a look at how he fits in at U-M as a player, member of the 2021 class and future piece of Michigan's roster.
Jennings checks in at 6-4, 225 pounds and has a TON of length. His arms are so long that they almost look like they don't belong on his body even when you're watching film from a distance. He's got a pretty thick core and upper bottom half but still has plenty of room to grow and add muscle through his shoulders, chest and arms.
As an athlete, Jennings checks every box. He's not in the elite, Jadeveon Clowney category as a defender, but he's got great size, good burst and runs very well for his build. He's nasty at the point of impact when striking ball carriers and really uses his long limbs to create separation and get upfield.
Jennings is listed as both an outside and an inside linebacker depending where you look, but I think he's all defensive end. With his height and length, he'll be an even bigger version of Josh Uche at Michigan at the very least with a chance to be a true defensive end like Aidan Hutchinson or Kwity Paye. I'm not sure if he'd be the anchor like Hutchinson, but I see his hand in the dirt in the future.
Because Jennings is currently and technically listed as an inside linebacker, he adds to an already impressive haul that contains Brentwood (Tenn.) Ravenwood outside linebacker Junior Colson, Bolingbrook (Ill.) High outside linebacker Tyler McLaurin and Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas athlete Jaydon Hood, who figures to play one of the linebacker positions at the next level at 6-1, 212 pounds.
If he does end up playing defensive end like I think he will, he joins New Monmouth (N.J.) Mater Dei strongside defensive end Dominick Giudice, Mansfield (Mass.) High strongside defensive end TJ Guy, Suffield (Conn.) Suffield Academy weakside defensive end KeChaun Bennett and Scottsdale (Ariz.) Saguaro weakside defensive end Quintin Somerville.
Wherever Jennings end up playing, he's a perfect fit for Michigan's class. He's not like any of the other players committed so he fills a specific role whether it's in the linebacker room or the defensive end room. He's closest to McLaurin and Bennett within the two groups, but he plays differently than both.
Because of the "ghost year" of eligibility in 2020, all of Michigan's players could be back in 2021, but it's almost certain that both Kwity Paye and Aidan Hutchinson will be off to the NFL in 2021. Because of that, there will be snaps to be had at the defensive end positions in 2021.
The group has some talent, but none of them have really been on the field yet. Luiji Vilain will be in his fifth year if he's back and will be the oldest end in the group. Taylor Upshaw and Julius Welschof, who we've heard good things about this fall, will both be a fourth-year players. Mike Morris and Gabe Newburg will be in their third years, while Braiden McGregor and Jaylen Harrell will both be in their second season at U-M. There are a lot of good looking players who were coveted recruits in that group but they've got a lot to prove at the college level.
Because of that it feels pretty open even for a guy like Jennings, who might not be at his final position when he steps foot on campus. Right now he's a lot lighter than everyone on that list, but he'll be bigger by this time next year and will also have some time to bulk up at U-M. I wouldn't count on him seeing the field as a true freshman but I think once he's on the field, as a defensive end, he's going to be a problem.