May 25, 2012

MVP Profile: J.J. Jennings, 1974


Running Back, Memphis Southmen



Age: 22 (Aug. 16)
1st season in pro football
College: Rutgers
Height: 6’1”    Weight: 220

Prelude:
A college star at Rutgers who led the nation in scoring in 1973, Jennings was chosen by the Kansas City Chiefs in the ninth round of the ’74 NFL draft and tenth round by the then-Toronto Northmen of the new WFL. He signed with Toronto, and a month later the franchise was shifted to Memphis. Jennings became part of an outstanding running game that included John Harvey and Willie Spencer.

1974 Season Summary
Appeared in all 20 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Rushing
Attempts – 322 [2]
Yards – 1524 [2]
Average gain – 4.7 [3]
TDs – 11 [3, tied with Tommy Reamon & Bubba Wyche]

Pass Receiving
Receptions – 46       
Yards – 431
Average gain – 9.4
TDs – 2

Kickoff Returns
Returns – 4   
Yards – 80
Average per return – 20.0
TDs – 0
Longest return – 25 yards

Scoring
TDs – 13 [6, tied with Don Highsmith]
Action Points – 3
Points – 94 [6, tied with John Land]
(Note: Touchdowns counted for 7 points in the WFL)

Postseason: 1 G (Second Round playoff vs. Florida)
Rushing attempts – 24
Rushing yards – 106
Average gain rushing – 4.4
Rushing TDs – 1

Pass receptions – 1
Pass receiving yards - 7
Average yards per reception – 7.0
Pass Receiving TDs - 0

Awards & Honors:
WFL MVP: League (co-winner)
1st team All-WFL: League, Sporting News

Southmen went 17-3 to finish first in the WFL Central Division. Lost Second Round playoff to Florida Blazers (18-15).

Aftermath:
With the arrival of FB Larry Csonka and HB Jim Kiick from the Miami Dolphins, and despite his success in ’74, Jennings was dealt to the Philadelphia Bell for the 1975 season, where it was hoped that his having been a college star in New Jersey would be a plus in terms of drawing fans. He rushed for 345 yards on 82 carries (4.2 avg.) and caught 12 passes for 95 more yards before the WFL folded. While he signed with the Chiefs, he ran into injury problems, spent 1976 on injured reserve, and never made it to the regular season in the NFL.

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MVP Profiles feature players who were named MVP or Player of the Year in the NFL, AAFC (1946-49), AFL (1960-69), WFL (1974), or USFL (1983-85) by a recognized organization (Associated Press, Pro Football Writers Association, Newspaper Enterprise Association, United Press International, The Sporting News, Maxwell Club – Bert Bell Award, or the league itself). 

[Updated 2/9/14]