The highly recruited rising senior chose the Tigers over approximately 40 scholarship offers from programs across the nation. Jennings had previously narrowed his list of prospective schools to a group that included Alabama, Arkansas, Missouri, Oregon, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Mississippi and Mississippi State.
“After a thorough evaluation process, including a lot of thought and prayer, I’m extremely proud to accept a scholarship offer from LSU,” Jennings said in a statement provided by Burton. “With this decision, I get to live out a dream of mine to play in the best conference in America, the SEC.
“I’m looking forward to earning the respect of my future teammates at LSU and to play for a coach like Les Miles, someone who has won a national championship in the past and knows how to get his players to perform at their very best.”
Jennings will be a second-generation player in the Southeastern Conference.
His father, Willie, was a defensive tackle at Georgia in the early 1990s. The elder Jennings was a college teammate of another highly recruited Marietta quarterback, Eric Zeier.
The 6-foot-2, 205-pound Jennings helped Marietta to a 6-6 overall record and 5-1 mark in Region 5AAAAA last fall, despite playing much of the season with a torn knee ligament.
The Blue Devils dropped their first four games of the season, but then rallied to win five of their last six to earn a No. 2 seed in the state playoffs. Marietta defeated Centennial in the first round of the Class AAAAA tournament before falling at Camden County in the second round.
Jennings completed 60 percent of his passes on the year and threw for 2,187 yards, 19 touchdowns and just four interceptions. He also rushed for 464 yards and eight scores.
“Anthony is very excited about this opportunity, and we’re excited for him,” Burton said. “To play for a perennial national championship contender and battle for the chance to play for SEC championships in his own backyard, at the Georgia Dome, was all he could ask for.”
According to Burton, Jennings visited LSU during Memorial Day weekend. After prayer and consultation with family and coaches, Jennings felt that Baton Rouge was going to be the best place for him.
“It was clear to Anthony as the process went on that LSU was the best fit,” Burton said. “It was about the people when he was there. He had a strong sense of family when he was there, and his relationship with (quarterbacks) coach (Steve) Kragthorpe could help him develop and grow as a player.”
In speaking with Miles, Burton felt that LSU did its homework on Jennings, as much as the player did on the Tigers.
“Les Miles called me on several occasions to discuss Anthony’s character and leadership and integrity,” Burton said. “He was impressed with him and excited about him as a future leader in his program. We must have spoken for about two hours of telephone time over the last two weeks. They’re very thorough with their evaluations.
“LSU wanted Anthony to fit in with them, just as much he believes he fits with LSU. They wanted a guy that’s driven and doesn’t want complacency. They want a quarterback that can make throws and extend plays and can do more than what the play required, and they think that they have that with Anthony.”
Jennings’ scholarship offers skyrocketed after he beat out 86 other quarterbacks and was named MVP of the Atlanta Region Elite 11 competition, earning him an automatic bid to the national finals next month in California.
Directed by former Super Bowl-winning quarterback Trent Dilfer and sponsored by ESPN, the Elite 11 competition is intended for top-level rising senior quarterbacks, as well as select underclassmen. In July’s finals, Jennings will match up against approximately 20 other top QBs from across the country to determine the top high school quarterback in the nation.
With his commitment in place, Jennings can turn all of his attention to his final season at Marietta.
“Though I’m excited about my future at LSU,” he said in the statement, “100 percent of my focus and attention is on my teammates at Marietta. There is much work to be done to get ready for the 2012 season, and I am committed to making myself and our team at Marietta better each and every day.”