NFL's Jennings launches mentoring charity to help kids

Sun Nov 29, 2015 10:23am EST
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By Steve Ginsburg

(Reuters) - Overweight, burdened with asthma and marooned on the bench as a fifth-string running back, Rashad Jennings of the New York Giants chuckles as he recalls his routine during his high school football games in rural Forest, Virginia.

"Drinking Sprite and eating M&M's on the sideline," Jennings said. "Why not? Didn't matter. I wasn't going to get into the game."

All of that impish indifference changed for the future NFL standout during one game when every player ahead of him on the Jefferson Forest High School team's depth chart got injured.

"The coach yells, 'Rashad Jennings, get in the game!' and I can't even find my helmet," Jennings said. "I had to pick up some random helmet. I didn't use their mouthpiece though. That would have been nasty."

Jennings immediately scored on a 40-yard run. "I figured I wasn't going to play anymore so I went back to the sidelines with my buddy to eat my M&M's," Jennings said.

But Jennings got back in the game and scored three more touchdowns, two of them on defense, which he had been forced to play because of other injuries to teammates. In 14 total plays, he had four scores.

A University of Tennessee scout there to see another running back was awestruck by Jennings. That changed when the scout asked Jennings about his grades in school.

"That's when I had to tell him the truth," Jennings said. "I had a .6 GPA (a barely passing D-minus grade point average) at the time. He said, 'Son, you have potential.' But that changed me. That was the first time, outside of people who are supposed to support me, anyone saw that I had potential."   Continued...

New York Giants running back Rashad Jennings (R) battles Buffalo Bills Bacarri Rambo as he runs for a touchdown during the second half in Orchard Park, New York, in this file photo taken October 4, 2015. Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports/Files