|2001-02||Sam Houston State|
Cay Jennings has quickly transformed the Arkansas secondary into one of the best units in the SEC in just one season with the Razorbacks. He enters his second season on The Hill after spending six years in the same capacity at TCU.
In his first campaign at Arkansas, Jennings helped the Razorbacks finish in the top 10 in both scoring and total defense as the team allowed just 19.2 points per game. Arkansas finished in the top 40 in passing yards allowed for the first time since 2011, surrendering just 208.8 passing yards per game.
The Razorback secondary held Heisman Trophy finalist Amari Cooper to just two receptions for 22 yards when Arkansas hosted No. 7 Alabama. It was Cooper’s lowest output of the season and well below his average production of 8.9 receptions for 123.4 yards per game.
Sophomore Jared Collins made big strides under Jennings’ tutelage, tying for the SEC lead in pass breakups (13) after starting just two games as a freshman.
Jennings also made an impact in his first season on Tevin Mitchel. The senior made the switch to the nickel back position under Jennings and thrived. Mitchel was selected in the sixth round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins.
Jennings joined the TCU football staff as cornerbacks coach in 2008. In his first three seasons with the Horned Frogs, TCU led the nation in total defense. From 2008-10, TCU became just the third program in NCAA history to lead the nation in total defense in three consecutive seasons.
While at TCU, Jennings coached 2014 first round NFL Draft pick Jason Verrett, who was taken 25th overall by the San Diego Chargers. Verrett was a two-time All-American in addition to being the Co-Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year by the conference’s head coaches in 2013 and the San Antonio Express-News Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year in 2012. He was also tabbed by CollegeFootballNews.com as the nation’s top cornerback. He topped the Big 12 in interceptions (six) and passes defensed (22) while being the only player nationally to rank in the top 10 in both categories. Verrett and Greg McCoy, a 2012 draft pick of the Chicago Bears, earned All-Mountain West honors in 2011. Jason Teague was a 2010 All-MWC second team selection.
Both Rafael Priest and Nick Sanders were first-team All-MWC picks in 2009. Priest was ranked by Rivals.com as the nation’s sixth-best cornerback, while Sanders was tabbed by Sporting News as the MWC’s hardest hitter. The duo also received all-conference accolades in 2008.
Jennings, who has coached nine NFL defensive backs, came to the Horned Frogs after serving as the cornerbacks coach at Baylor in 2007.
Jennings worked two seasons (2005-06) as the safeties coach at Houston. He helped the Cougars to back-to-back bowl appearances and the 2006 Conference USA championship. In 2006, Cougars’ free safety Will Gulley earned Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year honors while Brandon Brinkley was named to the league’s all-freshman squad.
In his first season at Houston, Jennings helped Rocky Schwartz earn Conference USA third-team all-conference honors and Kenneth Fontenette be named an honorable-mention Freshman All-American by Sporting News.
Prior to his two-year stint at Houston, Jennings spent two seasons (2003-04) as the defensive backs coach at Louisiana, where he helped the Ragin’ Cajuns to a No. 11 national ranking in pass defense. At Louisiana, Jennings tutored C.C. Brown and Michael Adams, who each had seven-year NFL careers for various teams. Jennings also mentored Antwain Spann, who played three seasons for the New England Patriots.
Jennings also worked two years (2001-02) as secondary coach and recruiting coordinator at Sam Houston State. He helped the Bearkats to a share of the 2001 Southland Conference championship and the quarterfinal round of the FCS playoffs. At SHSU, Jennings coached All-American and Buck Buchanan Award finalist Keith Davis, who played five seasons for the Dallas Cowboys.
Jennings also coached the secondary at Southern Arkansas (2000), Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa (1999) and Morehouse College in Atlanta (1998). At SAU, Jennings mentored Jordan Babineaux, a nine-year NFL veteran who played for the Seattle Seahawks and Tennessee Titans. At Morningside, Jennings coached first-team All-American Matt Walker.
A four-year letterwinner (1992-95) as a defensive lineman and special teams standout at North Texas, Jennings was a member of the Mean Green’s 1994 Southland Conference championship team and the school’s first NCAA FBS squad in 1995. He began his coaching career as a student assistant (1996) and then graduate assistant (1997) at North Texas before moving on to Morehouse.
Jennings is a 1996 North Texas graduate with a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology. Jennings and his wife, Belinda, have two children: son Kirby and daughter Kenzie.