From The Film Room: Branden Jennings
Michigan's 2021 class grew by one just a bit ago with the commitment of Jacksonville (Fla.) Sandalwood outside linebacker Branden Jennings. The 6-4, 225-pounder is an SI All-American candidate and is considered the No. 6 outside linebacker and No. 82 overall prospect nationally by the 247 Sports Composite.
To me, Jennings' biggest strengths are his frame, length, athleticism and overall potential. When you look at the kid on tape he looks like a spider out there. He's high cut and all arms and legs. His arms are so long that they stand out even from a distance on all-22 game film. Because of that frame, I think he'll easily get to 260 pounds while at Michigan, which makes his future very intriguing. That's where that potential comes in.
He's got pretty good burst and really solid straight line speed. He uses both to get to the quarterback often regardless of where he's lined up and that length really comes in handy when it comes to defeating angles and getting his mitts on the ball carrier.
He's a violent player. Because of his speed and overall size, he arrives at ball carriers with bad intentions. He's also a smart football player. His father, Bradley Jennings, was an All-Conference player at Florida State, so the bloodlines and IQ about the game are definitely there.
Areas Of Improvement
Depending on where he ends up playing will determine this category. If he's going to stay at linebacker, he'll have to improve his lateral quickness, agility and ability to cover in the open field. If he's moved down to end or plays some hybrid rush role, he'll be pretty good there from day one. Of course he'll have to add weight and strength, but he should be able to do that easily with his long limbs and broad shoulders.
On tape he looks a tad stiff. He's incredible when exploding up field in one direction, but when he has to change course and go side to side, he gets a little rigid. That's where choosing the best position for him to succeed will be key.
The Bottom Line
I love this kid. He's what future NFL players look like. He's got an incredible frame, freakishly long arms, a great background and a ton of natural athleticism. Those are the kinds of players who stand out in high school, morph into freaks in college and end up playing on Sundays. I think that's the future path for Jennings.
Ultimately I think he's Josh Uche or an actual true defensive end. I know he's ranked highly as a linebacker, but I don't think he'll ever play there at Michigan. We're talking about a kid who's already 6-4, 6-5 and around 230 pounds. While in Ann Arbor, he should get up to 260 at least without any problem. That's hybrid rusher/defensive end size.
This is a great pickup for Michigan. Not only did they essentially flip him from Florida State, who is having a bad year but is still the Noles in Florida, but they battled and won against Miami and Clemson on the trail in The Sunshine State. That's not easy to do. Throw in the fact that he's a legacy for FSU and this is a really nice win in the grand scheme of the cycle.
Additionally, if Jennings develops how I think he can, he'll be a stud at Michigan. At this stage of his football career, he looks like one of those difference makers. Some kids just have a different look and he's one of them. That's not always a guarantee, but it's nice to start with something not everyone has.