Staying near home to play college soccer was one reason Farragut High School junior Josie Jennings committed to play for the University of Tennessee.
It wasn’t the main reason, though.
“I think the thing that got me to choose Tennessee is the coaching staff,” Jennings said. “They’re just over the top and amazing.”
Farragut coach Dennis Lindsay said UT coach Brian Pensky was serious in his recruitment of Jennings.
Pensky is in his second season with the Lady Vols after a successful seven-year run at Maryland.
“He’s seen her play several times,” Lindsay said. “He’s been to our games, he’s been to her club matches. He knows her. He knows what he’s getting.”
Lindsay has no doubt Jennings can play SEC-level soccer.
“Oh yes, definitely,” Lindsay said. “Actually, I guess (Pensky) does too or he wouldn’t have recruited her.”
Jennings, a defender, also had Division I offers from Middle Tennessee State, Belmont, and Samford, and visited all the campuses.
She visited UT twice — last March and Jan. 27-28 — and took the last of her official visits Feb. 8-9 to Samford before choosing the Lady Vols last week.
“(UT) just felt right for me,” Jennings said.
Jennings would be the second Knoxville player signed by Pensky. Catholic senior Kathryn Culhane has signed with the Lady Vols and will begin her freshman season in the fall.
“It’s a huge relief,” Jennings said of making her decision. “Now I can just focus on playing soccer and winning state and going to regionals (in club
Jennings, chosen to the PrepXtra first team last fall, anchored a defense that posted 17 shutouts in 25 matches as Farragut (23-1-1) reached the Class AAA state semifinals.
Jennings was the District 4-AAA defender of the year, All-Region 2-AAA for the second consecutive year, and earned all-state honors.
“She’s very fast, very skilled, and very knowledgeable about the game,” Lindsay said.
Jennings looks forward to another year at Farragut — and the future at UT under Pensky and staff.
The Lady Vols went 14-5-3 last season, 9-3-1 in the SEC, and reached the NCAA first round before losing to Miami (Ohio) 3-2 in overtime.
“I think (Pensky) will take the program to the next level,” Jennings said.
Dave Link is a freelance contributor.