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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Jennings now a Montreal Alouette

Jun 15, 2008 @ 12:00 AM

By GRANT TRAYLOR

The Herald-Dispatch

HUNTINGTON -- Huntington native and former University of Arizona running back Chris Jennings is living with his head above the clouds right now.

OK, well, at least with his head above the border.

After trying out with the Cleveland Browns last week, Jennings has gone to Canada to join the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League.

"I'm above right now," Jennings laughed. "I'm in Montreal and it's going to be a great and wonderful experience."

Jennings said his tryout with the Browns was a success as the team kept him around after sending former Tennessee running back Lamarcus Coker home.

However, the Browns weren't in position to sign a running back at the present time.

"I can honestly say the only thing that held me back was a lack of film because the way we played at Arizona," Jennings said of the pass-happy Wildcats' offense in 2007. "They said that if anything happened that they would call me. There wasn't any guarantee there, but here there was a guarantee. So I decided to come here (to Montreal) and keep pursuing my dream."

Jennings said upon arrival to Montreal he noticed something different than what he had in his mind. Ironically, what was different was that things weren't really different at all from his Browns tryout.

"There is a lot of talent here. It's just the same as the NFL," Jennings said. "The only difference is three downs instead of four and the field is wider and longer."

A long field won't bother Jennings in the least as his road to professional football rivals that of anyone else's around.

Jennings, who grew up in Huntington, played football for the Fairview High School Eagles in Ashland. From there, he went to Arizona Western Junior College where he was a National Junior College All-American Honorable Mention selection in 2005.

He then went to Pima Community College to help with academics before walking on to the University of Arizona.

He eventually earned a starting job with the Wildcats, and in his first start, rushed for 201 yards on 26 carries against Stephen F. Austin.

Even though the Wildcats went to a pass-first offense last season, Jennings has overcome bigger odds in his career and isn't likely to change his approach to the game.

"Things happen. It happens in all programs," Jennings said. "Look at (NFL players) Priest Holmes or Willie Parker. Their systems did not suit them and look where they are now. It's all part of it."

Keeping things in perspective, Jennings is ready to go full speed in Montreal while anticipating a call from the NFL.

Until then, he is just going to enjoy the next chapter of an already-storied football career that has spanned nearly 7,000 miles.

"Montreal's a great experience and it's a great city, like a New York. It will also make me that much hungrier for the game," Jennings said. "It's going to prepare me to come back to the states and give the National Football League a shot."

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