Tennessee football: Jauan Jennings takes responsibility to get UT Vols ready for '12-game fight'

Mike Wilson

Jauan Jennings saw a lack of energy on Tennessee football’s sideline Saturday.

He couldn’t pinpoint why his teammates were not “juiced up” in a 38-30 loss to Georgia State. But he was ready to point blame — he turned it all on himself.

“I am the leader, so we are going to get this right,” Jennings said. “I am not worried about anything else other than this team and what we have going here because this is a great program. We have great people here and a lot of people here with talent that are ready to go out and execute.

“We are going to get that done.”

As if it was necessary, Jennings established himself as Tennessee’s leader repeatedly Tuesday. He used the phrase “as a leader” numerous times in discussing getting the Vols on track before playing BYU (0-1) on Saturday (7 p.m. ET, ESPN).

“I didn’t sign up for a one-game fight. This is a 12-game fight,” Jennings said. “That is what we are going to come in here and do every day from here on out. That is all we have to do is prepare and focus on one game at a time.”

Jennings was the most productive Vol in the season opener. He had seven catches for 108 yards and a touchdown, which he caught in the final seconds with the game already lost.

But he gained a lesson about his off-the-field role in the upset defeat. He has preached to his teammates the past three days to come to practice with energy and to get better. He wants his young teammates to know he believes in them. He wants to lead by example, bringing younger teammates into the film room so they can be prepared for game situations.

He wants to make sure every Vol knows the team has a lot of fight left and is not giving up.

“As a leader this week, I have come out each and every day fired up to let these guys know what happened last week is unacceptable and it won’t happen again,” Jennings said. “We just continue to prepare for this weekend. As a leader, I make sure I keep their heads up.”

Jennings said twice he did not do that against Georgia State. He regretted not being in teammates’ heads and ears, but plans on changing it with a 24/7 focus on leadership.

And the Murfreesboro native believes the Vols have the ability to change the trajectory of the season after a terrible opening.

“These guys are hungry,” Jennings said. “I’m hungry. We are all hungry. We just can’t wait to get back on the field Saturday and show how much we prepared for the game.”