The days grow long as football camp stretches through August, the start of the season still more than two weeks away. They don’t call them “two-a-days” or “three-a-days” in the NCAA any more, since only one practice session is allowed but with film study, conditioning and other duties — and no classes for another week — there is still a bit of a boot camp feel to it.
For Anfernee Jennings, it’s not quite enough.
“I’d rather do this than anything else,” Jennings said in a recent interview at the UA football complex. “Football all day, every day. What could be better than that?
“I get here about 7:15 (a.m.) and won’t leave until about 9:30 at night. I usually do some extra work after practice…I don’t want to take anything for granted.”
Jennings has been devoting extra time to football-related rehab for most of 2018 so far. He was a dominating presence in Alabama’s College Football Playoff semifinal win over Clemson, recording six tackles and a sack and causing general disruption for much of the evening. Then, late in the game, he suffered a knee injury (“let’s just say it was serious,” he said when asked about the nature of the injury at SEC Media Days last month) that kept him out of the championship game against Georgia and through spring practice.
“It was hard but, then again, I know my injury happened for a reason,” Jennings said. “I’m fully rehabbed. I’m back to 100 percent.”
The Alabama staff seems confident that the 6-foot-3, 267-pound junior is healthy and ready for a leadership role. He was one of three Crimson Tide players taken to Atlanta for the Media Days extravaganza last month. Along with Christian Miller on the outside and Mack Wilson and Dylan Moses on the inside, Jennings gives Alabama a formidable front unit — the issue, as with most spots on defense, is depth.
Jennings, however, does not view the linebackers as a distinct entity but as a part of the whole.
“We’re one defense at the end of the day,” he said. “If one person has a lapse, then someone else picks them up.”
One change in the coaching staff, which has Tosh Lupoi coaching Jennings’ group as well as serving as defensive coordinator, does help to enliven the long days, Jennings said.
“It’s not that we’ve changed what we are doing,” he said. “We’re still running the same base. He just brings a little extra juice to the meetings. Tosh definitely fires you up, but that’s just him being him.”
Reach Cecil Hurt at email@example.com or 205-722-0225.