Billy Jennings looks to help Jackets win

By BRIAN WHITMORE
Sports Editor - Union Daily Times

Union coaches are expecting big things out of defensive back Billy Jennings this year. He's ready to deliver.

Last year, Jennings had seven interceptions. He expects more picks this time around. Plus, coaches will use his athleticism on offense as a receiver and on special teams returning kicks.

"I keep working hard," he said. "I just do what I need to do for the team. I do anything to help us win."

Secondary coach Tommy Petty believes Jennings can make an impact.

"Billy has been playing four years," said Petty. "He started as a junior, maybe half a season as a sophomore. He really knows the game and could play any position in the secondary."

"His best position is probably free safety, but he's a good corner that's going to cover. We put him at a corner and we know whoever they've got out there, he's going to cover."

"Billy works really hard. He's worked on his speed the past two years and got that down. He's really worked hard at getting better. He's one of our most experienced guys and we look for him to be a leader on and off the field."

You might say the talent is in the blood, as Jennings comes from a family full of athletes - his cousins are Booker Peake, Travis Peake and Roscoe Crosby, all Jacket stars who played in college and beyond. So, coaches, teammates, family and fans expect Jennings to perform.

Any pressure?

"They tell me don't think about that, just go out and play," he said.

He's been doing that well. What does Jennings believe he brings to the team?

"I think I can play both sides of the ball," he said. "I can go out and try to get some turnovers to get our offense in position to score points." Last year, Union started 0-5, but rebounded to finish 7-7 and play for the upper state title. The team wants more this year.

"Last year, we just didn't give up," said Jennings. "We came out every week and fought and put the losses behind us. Now there is a lot of pressure, because we have a lot of returning starters. We feel like this team can go 15-0 and play one more game for the state title."

Jennings believes he and his teammates can live up to the expectations. During summer workouts, Union nearly had perfect participation. Jennings also benefited from passing leagues.

"(Passing leagues) help me see where I can play at - get a little closer, breaking on the ball," he said.

If he continues to improve during the season, as coaches expect him to, Jennings could be playing college football before long. He's had some interest, but no offers. That could change with more plays like his interception for a touchdown against Gaffney in 2005. That was his first pick for a touchdown, not his last, and he looks to add many this year.

 

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