San Francisco 49ers Wide Receiver Jauan Jennings’ journey to NFL success has been rather unique. In fact, it’s one that’s included Jennings playing multiple positions. During his senior year at Blackman High School in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, Jennings, a Quarterback at the time, was named the 2014 Tennessean High School Football Player of the Year. After graduating high school as a 4-Star Recruit, Jennings signed with the University of Tennessee.
Upon arriving in Knoxville, Jennings switched positions to Wide Receiver. He went on to become one of the most prolific pass-catchers in school history, finishing fourth all-time in career reception yards, and then fifth in career receptions and touchdown receptions. During his Redshirt Senior season, Jennings was named to the 2019 Second-Team Pro Football Focus All-SEC Conference Team.
After the 2019 season, Jennings was selected by the San Francisco 49ers in the 7th Round, 217th Overall, in the 2020 NFL Draft. Over the first three seasons of his NFL career, Jennings’ role has continued to increase, as now, he’s an integral component of the 49ers passing attack.
However, Jennings is making a difference not only through his productivity on the field, but by wearing the Q-Collar to add an extra layer of brain protection to his equipment.
Leading up to the 2023 NFL season, we had the chance to sit down with Jauan at his high school and discuss his football journey, his goals on and off the field, and what the Q-Collar means to him:
At what point did you decide you wanted to start playing football?
“It was in elementary school. I saw some kids playing football and I didn’t quite know what it was. I told my mom that I saw some guys practicing a sport, but I didn’t know what it was. So, she drove me up there. She saw that they were playing football, and then asked me if I wanted to start playing. So, that’s pretty much how I started playing football.”
At what point did playing in the NFL become your dream?
“I would say the NFL became my dream once I scored my first touchdown. I told myself that I wanted to do this for the rest of my life.”
How does it feel to come back to your high school, your old stomping grounds, as an NFL Wide Receiver?
“Coming back to my high school just feels great. It brings back a lot of memories seeing that Blackman Blaze ‘B.’ It just means something. I wish I could play another game here. It’s been years, but at least I got to be a part of something great.”
What are some of your best memories of playing high school football?
“Just playing with some of the studs I got to play alongside. Winning games off two-point conversions. Coming back after being down 28-7 in the 4th quarter and going for two to finish the game out. Those are the memories that you never forget, alongside with finishing the game and now I have a scholarship. That was the pinnacle at one point for me.”
What does being inducted to the Blackman High School Hall of Fame mean to you?
“Being inducted into the Blackman High School Hall of Fame meant a lot. It felt surreal. I won a State Championship here in basketball and came close in football. I have a lot of memories built up, and being able to be a part of Blackmon’s Hall of Fame just means everything. However, because of the sacrifices that I make as an NFL player, I wasn’t able to be at the ceremony.”
What was it like getting your first college scholarship?
“When I got my first scholarship, it was from New Mexico State. My Quarterbacks Coach at the time, Coach Childs, called me into his room since he was a teacher at Blackman. We just celebrated at the computer desk. However, we knew we weren’t satisfied with just that. We knew we wanted more. Next thing you know, offers just started rolling in.”
How has that passion for the game and drive to be the best player you can be carried through college and into your NFL career?
“My passion for football just came from one thing only, winning. Winning takes hard work and resiliency in this sport. You’re going to get hurt, and it’s about how well you bounce back. This game is so hard and a lot of times you want to just quit. But being the person I am and seeing the other guys that are in the NFL, what makes us who we are is that we never give up.”
What’s the grind and commitment like training year-round to be the best player you can be?
“The commitment is just out of this world to be an NFL player. I don’t think kids realize how much commitment it takes to be a professional football player. From high school, it first starts with getting good grades. You have to have good grades to get where you want to go. You have to be committed to never letting your teammates down. You don’t want to be that guy whose the weak link, because that weak link could break the chain.”
How hard is it to keep your body in optimal shape as an NFL player?
“Staying in shape is tough. It’s an everyday battle. From eating the right foods, to going to work out, to the rehabilitation part and making sure your muscles are where they need to be, it’s pretty tough. You want to go out and just have fun. You want to go out and just see family and your friends, but when you play football at a high level, you can’t do those things. There’s a lot of sacrifices that you have to make. So, mentally it can be hard. However, what you get from those sacrifices is tremendously rewarding.”
What makes those sacrifices all worth it to you?
“What makes everything worth it to me is winning first and foremost. I’m playing on a winning team right now, and I wouldn’t want to play anywhere else. Secondly, the joy that comes from seeing my family. Seeing the smiles on their faces when they come to a game and seeing me scoring a touchdown.”
What are some of your ultimate goals on the field?
“My ultimate goal on the field is to win a Super Bowl. My second goal is to become a Hall of Famer. My third goal is to retire with not just one Super Bowl Ring, but at least three Super Bowl rings. It’s going to take hard work. It’s going to take consistency. It’s going to take resiliency. You’re going to lose sometimes, but it’s about how many wins you can rack up. I think these are things that are instilled in me, and I won’t have a problem with it.”
How did your first learn about the Q-Collar and what made you want to try it?
“I remember first hearing about the Q-Collar through my agents. I’m looking for anything that can make me better as a football player. Off the top of my agent’s head, he asked me what I thought about Q-Collar. From there, we started discussing Q-Collar and a couple of minutes into the conversation, I realized that this was a no-brainer for me, and it was something that I wanted to be a part of.”
Does the Q-Collar give you, or your family members, any peace of mind that you’re protected when you’re out on the field?
“The Q-Collar gives me a lot of peace of mind because I often think about life years down the road, after I’m done with football. The Q-Collar helps make me feel like I’m going to be good when that time comes.”
What do you think the greatest benefit you get out of the Q-Collar is?
“I think the greatest benefit I get from wearing the Q-Collar is the confidence I get. Every day, I wake up and I’m ready to go. I have no pain anywhere, and I think the Q-Collar is a big part of that.”
Do you have any advice you’d give to younger players regarding using the Q-Collar?
“I think that younger people playing the game should definitely wear the Q-Collar. I think in any type of football moment, the Q-Collar will help them feel more confident in that moment and give them an extra layer of protection.”
Do you have things you want to accomplish after football?
“When I’m done with football, I want to be able to live a normal life with my kids. I also want to get into coaching kids. I think having a resource like the Q-Collar would also help them from an early age. They won’t have to wait until they get into the NFL like I did.”