Flames Home > Football Home > News

Jennings Named FCS Top Preseason Running Back

August 11, 2008
|  Lynchburg, Va.
|   RSS
|   Share

Senior Rashad Jennings is the nation's top FCS running back heading into the 2008 season according to the Sports Network's preseason running backs ranking.

Senior Rashad Jennings is the nation's top FCS running back heading into the 2008 season according to the Sports Network's preseason running backs ranking.

Countdown to Kickoff Central

Link to full Sports Network FCS Preseason Running Back Rankings

Preseason honors continue to roll in for Liberty's Rashad Jennings, with the most prestigious to date coming out today.

The senior ranked atop the Sports Network's Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) preseason running backs list, marking the first time in program history a Liberty football player has been ranked first in a FCS preseason listing.

The Sports Network, one of the nation's leaders in FCS football coverage, ranked Jennings first among its list of the Top 20 running backs in the nation. Along with Jennings, Liberty garnered two more mentions in the article, as junior Derek Bishop ranked No. 14 among full backs and Liberty's rushing attack was ranked No. 4 in the FCS preseason team rushing list.

Three weeks ago, Jennings (Sr., 6-1, 230, Forest, Va.) was named the Big South Preseason Offensive Player of the Year at the conference's annual Media Day events, marking the first such distinction in program history.

The Flames' senior back led the Big South in rushing yards per game (123.7), rushing touchdowns (15) and scoring (104 points) a season ago. The reigning Big South Offensive Player of the Year and honorable-mention All-America selection rushed for 1,113 yards, posting his second-straight season with 1,000 or more rushing yards since joining Liberty's roster in 2006.

Jennings set new Big South records with his rushing touchdown total, while also etching his name in the conference annals by averaging 154.3 all-purpose yards per game, scoring 18 total touchdowns and total points scored.

Jennings ranked ahead of Northern Iowa's Corey Lewis, Yale's Mike McLeod, North Dakota State's Tyler Roehl and Tennessee State's Javorris Williams atop the list.

Lewis rushed for 1,513 yards and 16 touchdowns last year alongside Walter Payton award runner-up Eric Sanders, helping the Panthers reel off 12-consecutive victories. McLeod has rewritten the Bulldogs' record books by rushing for 3,672 yards and 48 touchdowns during his first three years at the Ivy League institution.

Rounding out Jennings' fellow Top 5 preseason ranked running backs were Roehl, who ran for 1,431 yards and 21 touchdowns last year, and Williams, who has rushed for 3,292 yards during three seasons at Tennessee State.

Jennings' prowess helped the Flames garner the No. 4 spot of the Sports Network's Top 10 preseason team rushing list. Liberty has developed the reputation as one of the top FCS rushing programs in recent history, ranking among the Top 25 FCS rushing programs four out of the last five years.

Last season, the Flames ranked No. 16 nationally by rushing for 215.9 yards per game, falling two yards short of the program's school record (217.8 rushing yards per game in 2003). Liberty ranked No. 8 in the country, setting a new program standard by rushing for 32 touchdowns to help the program rank No. 3 nationally in scoring offense (42.6 points per game).

Bishop (Jr., 5-10, 225, Bradenton, Fla.) played a large part in Liberty's successful rushing attack last year. In true fullback fashion, Bishop finished the year with only one carry for two yards and two receptions for 23 yards, opting instead to do most of his work as a lead blocker for Jennings and the rest of the Flames' running backs.

Jennings and Bishop are the second and third Liberty players to earn preseason recognition in the Sports Network's preseason FCS position rankings. Late last month, Brock Smith (Sr., 6-3, 240, Hershey, Pa.) was ranked No. 14 among FCS quarterbacks. The senior had a banner year in 2007, passing for 2,226 yards and 19 touchdowns, while ranking No. 7 in the country with a 157.42 passing efficiency rating.