Jacksonville (FL) Sandalwood linebacker/defensive end Branden Jennings committed to Michigan on Friday afternoon after previously being committed to Florida State. Jennings picked the Wolverines over offers from Auburn, Clemson, Notre Dame, Ohio State, and Stanford, among others.
Jennings is listed at 6’3″ and 225 lbs. As a junior in 2019, he made 135 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, and 8 sacks. As a sophomore in 2018, he made 136 tackles and 6 sacks.
ESPN: 4-star, 86 grade, #8 OLB, #67 overall
Rivals: 4-star, 5.9 grade, #4 ILB, #52 overall
247 Sports: 4-star, 93 grade, #9 OLB, #160 overall
Hit the jump for more.
Jennings visited Michigan unofficially in the fall of 2019, but he went ahead and committed to Florida State, anyway. That makes sense because he’s the son of Bradley Jennings, who started for Florida State during his career from 1997-2001. Older brother Bradley Jennings currently plays for Miami. Branden, meanwhile, seems to have been deterred from the Seminoles by the current ugly state of affairs that has them at 1-3 so far this season, including a narrow win over FCS Jacksonville State.
Jennings plays middle linebacker for his high school team, and he is a monster. His nickname, according to Hudl, is “Godzilla.” And that’s probably what he looks like to opposing running backs. He blasts ball carriers and sends them backwards. Despite being a pretty tall linebacker, he shows the ability to get low and gain leverage against blockers and ball carriers, and he sinks his hips well to change direction.
On the negative side, I have questions about his long speed and his ability to keep up with backs out of the backfield. He has kind of a long, loping stride that does not lend itself well to playing in space. He also has a tendency to just lower his shoulder and go for the knockout shot rather than wrapping up ball carriers and using proper technique.
Overall, I like the athletic profile of Jennings, but I have questions about his position. Middle linebacker does not seem like a good fit considering the players who have most recently manned the position at Michigan, and weakside linebackers have also been taken advantage of with running backs out of the backfield. Jennings’s strength is bending off the edge and blitzing. That indicates a fit as a SAM linebacker in Michigan’s scheme or even a weakside end. If I had to come up with a Michigan comparison, I would probably bring up Pierre Woods from the early 2000s.
Michigan now has 21 commitments in the class of 2021. Jennings is the fourth linebacker, joining Jaydon Hood, Tyler McLaurin, and Junior Colson. If he plays on the defensive line, he would join a class that includes Quintin Somerville, T.J. Guy, Kechaun Bennett, and Dominic Giudice. He would be the first player to play for Michigan from Sandalwood High School.
TTB Rating: 87
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