Who is the best quarterback in the state of Georgia?
Anthony Jennings, the son of a former UGA football player, made his case this past weekend.
The 6-foot-1, 205-pound quarterback from Marietta High School came out of the blue to win MVP honors at the Atlanta Elite 11 Quarterback Camp.
It was a star-studded field of quarterbacks, with 21 holding major-college scholarship offers, including UGA-bound Brice Ramsey of Camden County, UCLA commit Eddie Printz of Lassiter and Vanderbilt recruit Johnathan McCrary of Cedar Grove.
“Well, that’s for other people to judge and evaluate whether Anthony is the best in the state at the quarterback position,” Marietta coach Scott Burton told the AJC.
“But one man’s opinion, being [Elite 11 coach and ESPN analyst] Trent Dilfer and his staff … they would say ‘yes’ based on his performance. I will tell you this: I would not trade him for another quarterback in the state, that’s for sure.”
When Jennings won MVP honors at the prestigious camp, it sent many people scrambling for information on the wonderkid. Here are a few things to know: His father, Willie Jennings, played defensive tackle at UGA in 1990-91 with another QB from Marietta High School, Eric Zeier. Last fall, the younger Jennings tore ligaments in his right knee in the team’s first offensive series of the year in the season-opener. Yet he played through the pain “at 60 percent” and did not miss a snap.
Jennings has 16 early offers, including North Carolina, Ole Miss, West Virginia and Syracuse. He is a dual-threat quarterback who prefers to pass first, and then run.
“The college coaches that have seen his film, shown a tremendous amount of interest in him, and want to recruit Anthony … many of them didn’t even know he had a knee injury,” Burton said. “When I tell them that, they say ‘Are you kidding me? What I just saw was 60 percent of what he will be?’ And then they are even more impressed.”
After toughing it out in football, Jennings pressed halfway through the basketball season before finally undergoing surgery on Feb. 1. The night before the operation, Jennings posted 19 points and 12 rebounds against rival Walton High School.
What’s really amazing about the Elite 11 performance was that Jennings got medical clearance only 10 days before the all-star competition.
“He would probably say he’s close to 100 percent but I would disagree, based strictly on him getting back his endurance,” Burton said. “But it’s not from a lack of effort. He has attacked the rehab process to get him as close to 100 percent he could be … and he had April 20 [date of the Elite 11] circled on his calendar and was very laser-focused on that.
“For Anthony to go out and win MVP honors under those circumstances, I think it speaks volumes for his character, work ethic and, obviously, his talent.”
Jennings, who says he’s at “90 percent, was humbled by the surprising honor.
“Winning it was a big accomplishment because everybody doesn’t get an invite to the Elite 11 [nationals in July],” Jennings said. “You know, that’s one of the most prestigious quarterback things around right now. It’s a blessing, and I’m very thankful to be a part of it.”
How does Jennings think the MVP will affect his life? And his recruiting?
“I think it changes things, in that more people will know who I am with being one of the bigger-name quarterbacks coming out next year after winning this,” he said. “I guess it boosts my recruiting, maybe. But I can’t really speak on that yet. I feel like it boosts my confidence. Now I know I will have to work even harder to be the best in the nation in July.”
What’s the latest with colleges? It’s hard to say any QB with 16 offers by April of his junior year is “under recruited.” But that may indeed be the case with Jennings. Alabama sent assistant Lance Thompson by the school on Monday, while many other college coaches reached out to offer congratulations within the last few days. There’s a big crowd of scouts expected to attend Marietta’s spring practices, which begin May 2.
“He’s not a kid who has ever gone to a lot of camps,” Burton said. “A lot of quarterbacks, they get on the radar very early because they spend a tremendous amount of time on the camp circuit. Rather than do that, he has been on our campus working with his teammates to make our team be the best it can be. I’m not saying one way is right, and the other is wrong. It’s just a different approach to the process to not do the camp circuit as much as some other folks have.”
What about UGA? Jennings is a big fan of the Bulldogs because his father played for the team. However, he is unlikely be following in the family footsteps because UGA will likely only sign one QB for 2013. Ramsey committed to the Bulldogs last summer. “Georgia has a great program, and I could see myself fitting in there,” Jennings said. “But I know they have Brice … and it is what it is. I can’t really complain or be down about that, or really anything, because I’m very blessed to have all the offers that I do I have. I know there’s a school out there that will be the right fit for me.”
What about Georgia Tech? “I haven’t really heard from them but it’s a top ACC program that is always winning and doing things the right way,” Jennings said. “I feel like if they come into the picture with an offer, I really would look into them hard.” What about the option offense? “I think my style of QB would fit there, or with anybody.”
Along with Georgia Tech, Jennings said he would like to get evaluated by Alabama, Auburn, Texas, Clemson, Ohio State, Florida and FSU.
“I don’t really have a favorite college right now,” he said. “I’m at an early stage of the game with recruiting. I’m keeping everyone on my mind right now, and I will narrow down the schools later this spring or summer.”
WHILE WAITING FOR TONY PARKER’S CEREMONY TO END …
WHILE COUNTING DOWN TO THE NFL DRAFT …
AJC’S INSTANT RECRUITING CLASSICS
– By Michael Carvell, AJC Recruiting Blog
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