Rivals100 LB Jennings excited about FSU's 2021 recruiting class
There's no question that one of the biggest -- if not the biggest -- commitments for Florida State's 2021 recruiting class so far was linebacker Branden Jennings of Jacksonville.
The legacy recruit, whose father, Bradley Jennings, played linebacker for the Seminoles in the late 1990s and early 2000s, made his commitment in early February and gave a jolt to head coach Mike Norvell's first full recruiting class.
But as is often the case when a highly touted prospect commits very early in the process, the player seems to drift into the background as the media focus on all of the uncommitted prospects who are still considering several schools.
With that in mind, we caught up with Jennings this week to see how he's feeling about the Seminoles' recruiting class, what kind of connection he's building with his future teammates and coaches, and what he's been doing while waiting for football to return.
Jennings, who goes by the nickname "Godzilla" because of his stature and physical style of play, says he kept very busy during the coronavirus shutdown and believes he will be better than ever when football returns.
Even when the state started opening things back up earlier this summer, Jennings said he maintained a singular focus.
"I'm just trying to stay organized and staying home to stay away from everything," the four-star linebacker said. "I have an old weight set in my garage, so that's how I'm getting all my lifting in. My dad my trains me, so we're doing everything from home. I've gotten a lot stronger. So we have been working on getting better with my speed and agility, so I can be more versatile.
"It really stinks (not having normal team activities). But I'm just staying in shape, and hopefully things can get back to normal."
While Jennings is not quite as active on social media as some other members of FSU's 2021 recruiting class, that doesn't mean he isn't taking an active role in recruiting.
The Rivals100 prospect is part of several group chats with prospects, including committed players and major targets.
"We all know the class is just growing and getting bigger," Jennings said. "We are just looking for the right fits to put everything together. That's what the commits are mostly talking about with this class. I just tell them how good we can be and how the future is going to be at FSU for the future and how we can make an impact.
"As defensive commits, we all talk in a group. And then we also talk with the offensive guys. But with the defensive guys, we make sure the new commits are comfortable in introducing ourselves to them and it's pretty cool getting to know everyone. I feel really good about the guys we have. It's all coming together. ...
"I talk a lot with Joshua Farmer, and then also Shambre Jackson, and he asks about the reasons I picked FSU. I tell him it's a great fit and I feel really comfortable with where we are going, and they fit me in every way."
Despite his early commitment, other schools have not stopped trying to change Jennings' mind. But the Sandalwood standout said he has no reason to reconsider his decision.
"I'm excited about the future. Go Noles!" he said. "Some schools still keep recruiting. ... I'm respectful and listen to what they have to say, but I feel great about FSU and the future."
While the media might not check in with committed prospects very often, Florida State's coaches have stayed in constant contact with Jennings -- particularly linebackers coach Chris Marve.
"I talk with all the coaches very frequently, especially Coach Marve, who I talk with every day or every other day," Jennings said. "I have a very tight relationship with him. Sometimes it's a Zoom call, FaceTime or some form of communication. We talk about everything with the pandemic and things about life and going on in the world. Coach Marve is very open and has a great personality and is very genuine. He's a really genuine person overall."
One of the questions fans have had about Jennings' future at FSU is where he will line up in Adam Fuller's defense. The four-star prospect has the athletic ability to play outside, but he said the Seminoles see him playing in the middle.
"I play inside linebacker," he said. "They are looking at me more as a 'Mike' linebacker, but I am so versatile that I can play all the linebacker positions. I can play wherever at different spots. But I think Inside linebacker is the place right now.
"I feel I can bring physicality and I can grow and learn very fast. So I can make an early impact. Just being able to really adapt quick."
From his conversations with Marve, Jennings said he can't wait to see what the Seminoles' linebackers look like on the field.
"I think the linebackers are going to come from all different angles in how they attack," he said. "It's going to be a very fast defense."
With 13 current commitments, Florida State's recruiting class ranks just inside the top 25 nationally. But Jennings believes the group will really start to flourish once the NCAA opens up in-person recruiting and more prospects can meet Norvell and his staff on campus.
"Coach Norvell seems very genuine and straight forward," Jennings said. "Everyone on this staff has a great personality and ability to connect with all the players. There's such a strong connection and ability to relate to the players, and Norvell and his staff do a great job with that."