Adonis Jennings’ earliest memory at Lincoln Financial Field is of the University of Miami’s Devin Hester running back a kick against the Owls in 2005.
The game ended in 34-3 loss for Temple. It is the only game Jennings remembers going to growing up.
Two years after he transferred from the University of Pittsburgh, Jennings is happy to be back in Philadelphia, playing for a school close to home.
“It’s definitely good to be home and play for a team that you saw growing up, you went to the games,” the senior wide receiver said. “I’m just glad I’m a Temple Owl.”
As a senior at Timber Creek High School in Sicklerville, New Jersey, Jennings was rated a four-star recruit by Rivals.com. The 6-foot-3, 190-pound wide receiver had reached a coveted size, and he had the speed to go with it.
Jennings placed fifth in the 100-meter at the New Jersey Meet of Champions as a senior. He also won two titles in the 4×100-meter relay with redshirt-sophomore defensive back Kareem Ali.
“He’s an animal,” Ali said. “He’s a freak. He has crazy hands. He’s confident in himself. He looks so fluid.”
Jennings had six catches for 55 yards for the Panthers in 2014. He transferred to Temple in July 2015 and was granted immediate eligibility by the NCAA.
When he arrived, Jennings got a bit lost in the mix. During his first season, he caught 14 passes for 146 yards and two touchdowns in 14 games.
“Just keep on stacking days and keep on working hard, no matter what the circumstances are,” Jennings said he told himself back then. “You can’t get down on yourself or anything. You just keep plugging away and good things will eventually happen.”
Jennings finished the 2016 season with 27 catches for 474 yards and four touchdowns.
Toward the end of last season, he showed flashes of his ability that made him a coveted recruit coming out of Timber Creek.
Jennings recorded his first career 100-yard game against East Carolina on Nov. 26, the team’s regular season finale. He had seven catches for 154 yards and two touchdowns in the Owls’ bowl game loss to Wake Forest University.
He has continued the momentum this spring, using his size and speed to catch passes.
“Adonis looked like he was Calvin Johnson today,” junior running back Ryquell Armstead said after a practice this spring, referring to the former Detroit Lions All-Pro wide receiver. “He was up top on everybody. He looked crazy today.”
“I’ve seen his leadership kind of take control,” junior running back Jager Gardner said. “I think he’s really coming into his own.”
Ali and Jennings won two South Jersey football championships together at Timber Creek.
As a high school senior in 2014, Jennings caught 83 passes for 1,434 yards and 15 touchdowns. Ali said he expects “Adonis Jennings 2014 edition” this season at Temple.
Ali is excited he gets to witness it again firsthand.
“That’s one thing we always wanted to do,” Ali said. “He ended up at Pitt first, but he came home and we’re setting the standard for everyone back home.”
Owen McCue can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Owen_McCue.