MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia will be without one of the most productive receivers when it faces Syracuse in the Camping World Bowl.
Senior Gary Jennings, who suffered a high ankle sprain against Baylor in late October, will miss the bowl game against the Orange on Dec. 28. Jennings joins fellow seniors Yodny Cajuste and Will Grier in missing the contest, though Jennings’ circumstances are more out of necessity than choice.
“He battled a high ankle for six weeks. He hasn’t practiced for six weeks,” said West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen. “I don’t know how he did what he did against Oklahoma. He needs to get healthy. I respect that.”
Jennings was outstanding against the Sooners despite playing on one good ankle, catching seven passes for 225 yards. It tied Stedman Bailey’s 2012 performance against Oklahoma State for the second-most yards in a single game by a West Virginia receiver.
“The adrenaline rush sometimes covers the pain,” said fellow receiver David Sills, who will play in the bowl game. “But he gave it everything he had for this team.”
Jennings had a team-high 917 yards on 54 catches this season. He was second on the team with 13 touchdown catches. One of those touchdowns — a 36-yarder in the back of the end zone with time winding down at Texas — is among the most iconic plays in recent WVU history and the 2018 college football season as a whole.
Jennings made seven catches for 225 yards and two scores in the 59-56 loss to Oklahoma.
“You could see how much he wanted to be out there, even at practice,” Sills said. “But he battled through and had some big-time plays down the stretch — obviously at Texas and some huge plays against Oklahoma.”
Holgorsen said Jennings will try to get well enough to participate in the East-West Shrine Game on Jan. 19 and the NFL combine in March. Freshman receivers Sam James and Bryce Wheaton will be among the players seeing snaps in Jennings’ absence. Both players will have four years of eligibility remaining even after playing in the bowl game.
Jennings thanked West Virginia fans on his Twitter feed.
It has been an unbelievable ride!! Thank you Country Roads! You’ll forever be my home ❤️〽️ pic.twitter.com/upmpT0ABfL
— Gary Jennings (@_gman12) December 19, 2018
Jennings finishes his college career sixth in Mountaineers history with 2,294 receiving yards and seventh with 168 receptions.