Adonis Jennings was one of the stars in a star-studded 2014 Rutgers recruiting class. He was also one of the first decommitments from that class, and was likely the catalyst for a wave of high-profile and devastating defections.
Jennings was a four-star prospect coming out of South Jersey power Timber Creek, and committed to the Scarlet Knights on June 26, 2013.
As the 2013 season progressed, and amid a lot of weird circumstances at Rutgers (Cohen/Tyree, bad losses, etc.) rumors of a growing rift between Jennings and the Rutgers coaching staff began to surface. Jennings decommitted on November 10, 2013.
Much of the back-story on his decommitment remains (officially) unconfirmed, but rumors abound that 1) Jennings was upset that Rutgers continued to recruit wide receivers after he committed; and 2) that Jennings visited Iowa, then told Coach Flood he would not take anymore visits, and took another to Pitt anyway. When Coach Flood discovered the stealthy Pitt visit, he allegedly pulled Jennings' scholarship offer. Regardless of the exact circumstances, there is no doubt Coach Flood's tough guy "no visits following a commitment" policy backfired, leading to a string of high profile decommitments, including 4 star talents S Kiy Hester (11/11/13, since returned), QB Tyler Wiegers (11/17/13), RB Jonathan Hilliman (12/14/13), OL Justin Herron (1/29/2014) and WR Saeed Blacknall (1/27/2014).
Following his decommitment, Jennings committed to Pitt on January 5, 2014. He announced he was transferring from Pitt via Instagram yesterday, where he wrote:
"I’d like to thank the University of Pittsburgh for giving me an opportunity that many people wish they had," [and] "I’d also like to [thank] the fans, coaches, and players. But I don’t feel like [P]itt is the best fit for me. Great school but I just know I need to be somewhere else. Thank you Pittsburgh!"
Our Pitt brothers at Cardiac Hill explore the possible reasons for his dissatisfaction in a nice piece here. Jennings was hampered by a lingering groin injury he suffered in training camp this season. He played in six games, and caught six balls for 55 yards and zero TDs. In other words, Pitt burned his redshirt for nothing. Absent a hardship waiver, he will need to sit out 2015 and then will have three years to play three wherever he lands.
The early favorites to land Jennings are Rutgers and Temple, which both have a number of Timber Creek players on their rosters.
Make no mistake about it: Adonis Jennings is a big, fast, talented wide receiver, and those are difficult to find. Even so, given the nature of his initial breakup with Rutgers, and the string of devastation it ignited, there is room for some Rutgers fans to question whether they want him back if indeed he wants to be a Scarlet Knight again.
Personally, I would not think twice about bringing Jennings back, if Kyle Flood is in favor. Rutgers ended up not taking any WRs in last year's class, and cannot afford to scoff at this kind of talent when such players are interested. The alleged circumstances of Jennings' defection, as set forth above, do not cover either side in glory if true, and there is blame on both sides. I am a fan of the way Kyle Flood conducts himself and runs his program from a personnel standpoint. He has made it clear many times in the past that there are no doghouses in this program, and he recognizes that he is dealing with teenagers, who make sometimes make dumb decisions for bad reasons. He let Ian Thomas come back twice before ultimately cutting ties, and seems to be a forgiving coach in a lot of circumstances.
In Jennings' case, he thought the grass might be greener somewhere else, and despite his commitment, wanted to take visits to see if he was making the right decision. If Flood's policy on commitments visiting other schools wasn't so rigid, it is quite possible Jennings would have visited Pitt, counted the empty yellow seats in the
Steelers Panthers' stadium on game day, and stayed a Scarlet Knight.
After decommitting from RU, he was allegedly dissatisfied with Pitt even before signing day when his primary recruiter left for another school, but stayed the course anyway. Flood's policy (which has apparently - and wisely - been relaxed this year, as Kamaal Seymour and Jarius Adams have both taken visits elsewhere without incident) was too rigid, and led to a very bad situation in 2014. If Coach Flood is indeed exploring the possibility of returning Jennings to the Scarlet fold, and if both sides have been able to bury the hatchet (as Flood was able to do with Kiy Hester), I say wonderful, and welcome (back) to the Banks Adonis - come ready to play and ready to represent your home state in the way we require, and I will be happy to cheer for you.
I also think the possibility of adding Jennings back to the Scarlet Knights, where he would join fellow one-time defector Kiy Hester, is a nice full-circle resolution to the decommitment debacle of a year ago, and can be a powerful recruiting tool going forward. Who better to preach to the young'ins about the dangers of following false prophets to foreign lands, when everything they need is right here, than two guys who went elsewhere and regretted it before returning to Piscataway?
What do you think? If Adonis is interested, will you welcome him back with open arms? Does he need to re-earn your trust as a fan? Or are there too many red flags here to take a chance?