By Judy Jesoro Rotich

Holding the record for most games played by a University of South Florida Bull (55), Jennings’ days as a Bull may have come to an end, but his indelible legacy is intact, and he moves forward to this year’s NFL draft. The former tackle turned guard put up impressive “Pro Day” numbers and have sparked the interest of several teams ahead of the April 25th-27th draft weekend. Jennings also impressed during the Shrine game where he played guard and turned heads once again. Already a polished product, Jennings feels he would enter a locker room, prepared to take on a leadership role. 

 

We sit down with Donovan Jennings to discuss his draft day preparation and what it would mean to hear his name called. 

 

Zenger: What was preparation like for your “Pro Day?” 

 

Jennings: I had a lot of teammates working out for what we call the biggest interview of your life. You just gotta prepare, make sure your process is right. You gotta be locked in. There were a lot of nerves that come along with it of course. You put all this work in for 4,5,6 years, and you just want to put it out in a couple of hours. You want to make sure you maximize every moment, make sure you don’t get too high or too low, and just be you in that moment. 

 

Zenger: How much did the Shrine game propel you forward during this process? 

 

Jennings: It gave me the confidence that I can go in and play a new position at a high-level. It was a great experience to put on a great Bowl Game. It was a great time, met some great players, and built some great connections as well. It was a great set up and East-West did a great job. 

 

Zenger: Moving from tackle to guard, there will be a lot more down blocking and pulling in your future. How important was it for you to play guard in that Shrine game? 

 

Jennings: I played a few games at guard in college, two games, and summer practice, and getting a lot of reps in one-on-ones, but it was good to go against some good guys and get a lot of action in that environment. I think I showcased my athleticism and versatility, and showed what I can do at the next level. 

 

Zenger: We are in the microwave era where we want what we want right now. You being a 6-year guy, coming in with so much experience, that used to be applauded, but now I feel like you have a point to prove when you come in experienced. How do you revive that through your play? 

 

Jennings: I’m coming in as a leader. Obviously, I’m not saying I’m established but I’m a well-polished offensive lineman just looking to perfect his craft. I come in with a lot of experience. I played in 55 games. Consistency and availability is the best ability, just know that that’s what I bring. If I’m blessed enough to get drafted, you’re getting a consistent, hardworking lineman, no matter what comes his way. No matter whether it’s an injury, I bounce back quickly, and that’s what they can expect from me. 

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Zenger: You had several opportunities to transfer with many takers, your loyalty to South Florida says a lot about your character. 

 

Jennings: For sure! USF is my home, it’s where I played and got my degree from, and the one place I will always call home. I wanted to create a winning environment and set a foundation. We went from 1-11 to 7-6. We could’ve had a better season, but it set a foundation for years to come. It was cool having a full circle moment. We went 7-6 my true freshman year, being ranked #22, after starting 7-0. We went through some ups and downs after that, so being able to bounce back, won our Bowl Game. So, whatever team drafts me, I will be coming in with a loyal mindset. My mind will be on winning a Super Bowl, being a better teammate, and hoping to start in the NFL for years to come. 

 

Zenger: Have you had someone walk you through this process? 

 

Jennings: My family is involved. I always reach out to them. My very close friends. My coach, Coach Hudanick, he’s been my coach at USF for a long time. He’s really been giving me guidance, tips, and encouragement that could help me as well. 

 

Zenger: Have you wrapped your mind around potentially hearing your name called on draft day? 

 

Jennings: I’m still focused and grinding, and taking each day as they come, but as the day comes closer, you start feeling it more. It starts to become real. When that day comes, just hope for the best and just go from there. 

 

Zenger: For any team that takes a chance on Donovan Jennings, what type of person and player will they be getting? 

 

Jennings: Man… a hardworking, committed, consistent, and nasty offensive lineman who is going to come in and work hard, who will try to get better, learn, and lead. They will get a person who cares, a genuine person who actually wants to talk and listen, and just a great guy. 

 

Zenger: Have you studied any lineman to grab some skills and techniques from? 

 

Jennings: I would say early in my career, my true freshman year in college, it was just me. I was focused on me, grinding, and focusing on football. Going into football, expecting nothing out of it, just trying to get better every day. I started a few games as a true freshman, and I definitely started picking up some tips that other offensive lineman did. A lot of college offensive lineman at first, but then guys like Tristan Wirfs, Jason Peters, and all the greats. Tyler Smith, he was in our same conference when he played for Tulsa, so seeing him work was great. 

 

Zenger: How did you walk away from your “Pro Day” feeling? 

 

Jennings: For me personally, you always think you can do a little better. I definitely wanted to get 30 plus on bench. I wasn’t able to but 28 is still a solid number. From all the work I put in throughout the draft process, to run a 4.9 (40-yard dash), I gave it everything and I was blessed to be able to do it. You could always do better but I’m happy with the result. 

 

Zenger: What would it mean for you to hear your name on draft day? 

 

Jennings: Man, if I was to get drafted… woo. It would be a surreal moment. Just hearing my name after all of the hard work me and my family put in, it would be a surreal moment.