Former Tennessee Vols wide receiver Jauan Jennings was selected in the seventh round of the 2020 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers.
Getting drafted was a positive for Jennings, but seventh-round picks aren’t locks to make NFL 53-man rosters.
That’s something Jennings found out the hard way last week. The former Vol standout was a victim of San Francisco’s final roster cuts.
Jennings ended up landing on the 49ers’ practice squad. It’s not an ideal situation for the Murfreesboro, TN native, but it’s not the end of his football career, either.
In fact, it could be the beginning of something great for Jennings. As long as he keeps working hard, he could still have a huge opportunity in the NFL.
And if Jennings needs some inspiration, he should just look to former Tennessee running back Arian Foster.
Foster played four years at Tennessee, finishing as the program’s second all-time leading rusher (behind Travis Henry).
But despite the strong statistical career he enjoyed at UT, Foster wasn’t selected in the 2009 NFL Draft. He was signed after the draft as a free agent by the Houston Texans (Foster’s 4.68 time in the 40 yard dash probably didn’t help).
Foster, much like Jennings, was waived just before the start of his rookie season. The former Vol running back was signed to Houston’s practice squad, where he stayed until late November of his rookie season.
The Texans activated Foster near the end of the 2009 season due to a lack of depth.
Foster made the most of his opportunity, averaging 4.8 yards per carry in limited action.
The next season, Foster made his presence felt immediately, rushing for 231 yards in the season-opener.
Foster ended up with a seven-year career in the NFL. He reached four Pro-Bowls, finished as the NFL leader in rushing yards in 2010, and lead the NFL in rushing touchdowns in 2010 and 2012.
Starting the season on the practice squad might seem like a setback for Jennings. But it’s not something that has to define his career. He’ll eventually get an opportunity to make an impact for the 49ers. Jennings has the drive to make it happen, he just needs to be patient and he’ll get his shot.
Until then, Jennings just needs to stay ready. The call can come at any time, just ask Arian Foster.
Featured image via Randy Sartin/USA TODAY