When Rashad Jennings was in high school, he was a fifth-string running back. He also weighed 275 pounds and had a 0.6 GPA.
In other words, not your typical future NFL draft pick.
“I thought I was smarter than school,” Jennings said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “It took me a little bit longer than I would want to admit to realize that I wasn’t. My junior year, I ended up transferring high schools. I repeated. I went to a private school. I took nine home school classes on top of nine summer school classes on top of the regular academics. I rededicated myself. I stopped blaming other people. I started taking ownership and responsibility and a lot turned around in my life.”
Jennings, a Virginia native, began his college career at Pitt before transferring to Liberty, a Division 1-AA school, to be closer to his family. A seventh-round draft pick in 2009, Jennings played for the Jaguars for four years, the Raiders for one, and signed a four-year deal with the Giants in March 2014.
Last year, Jennings rushed 195 times for 863 yards – 4.4 yards per carry – and three touchdowns. He also caught 29 balls for 296 yards and a touchdown. Those are solid numbers.
Which is why he hopes the Giants don’t take, say, Ezekiel Elliott with the tenth overall pick in Thursday’s draft.
“Well, I don’t think anybody wants any of their positions to ever be drafted,” Jennings said, laughing. “That’s just common sense. But no, we love competition, man. This is the NFL. No matter who comes in at your position, you compete. We’re here to win a championship, and if somebody can come in and help us win a championship, let’s do it. If it takes another person to come into the room . . . to change how you prepare as a pro, then you should question me. You should question anybody in that room. So I’m excited about this year. I’m excited because as long as I’ve been a Giant, we have not missed on a first-round draft pick, so I’m excited to see who we bring in to help us win.”
The Giants have finished with a losing record in three straight seasons. This year was especially painful, as the Giants, who went 6-10, lost eight games by six points or fewer, including five by three points or fewer.
Jennings believes the Giants have what it takes to get things turned around under new head coach Ben McAdoo.
“It all starts now,” Jennings said. “The season has been started – how you prepare in the offseason, how you go about your business during the OTAs, minicamp, how the team drafts, and then bringing the guys in and meshing, growing up the rookies really quick. There’s a fine difference between an NFL player and a pro athlete. You want to turn everybody into a pro as quick as possible. I’ve been able to watch some of our younger guys become pros. Getting over the hump (of) not losing (games) in the fourth quarter, it comes from eliminating self-inflicted wounds – not jumping offsides, not dropping the ball, scoring in the red zone. It’s all the little things that make a big difference. But as you mature and you have more pros on your team, those (mistakes are eliminated).”