PISCATAWAY, NJ - Rutgers baseball player and Governor Livingston baseball alum John Jennings ’11 has been named a team captain for the second straight season. Jennings was one of three 2016 captains that were selected by Scarlet Knights players and coaches.
For Jennings, being selected a captain once again tells a lot about how those within the program feel about him as a player and more importantly, a person.
“It’s a great feeling being elected captain two years in a row,” Jennings, who will be a fifth-year senior, said. “It just goes to show that hard work pays off and that my coaches and teammates trust me to make the right decisions.”
Rutgers head coach Joe Litterio chose his captains based not only on on-field leadership, but how the players carry themselves off the field as well.
A lot happens on college campuses that student-athletes need to be aware of and avoid. Every team needs responsible individuals that not only make sure they personally avoid the pitfalls, but their teammates avoid those same pitfalls.
Thankfully for Litterio and everyone else within the Rutgers baseball program, they have a special gem in Jennings who’s taken on the responsibilities of being the class act leader that his teammates follow.
“John has been an outstanding teammate during his time here,” Litterio said. “He’s one of the guys on the team that makes sure everyone does right off the field. John’s teammates can come to him with any question because he’s such an easy guy to approach.”
Jennings takes pride in being a role model his teammates can look to for guidance and he echoed his coach’s sentiments about the trust his teammates have in him.
“Being elected a captain shows that my teammates trust me,” Jennings said. “They know they can talk to me about anything and that I work hard every day.”
Hard work has truly paid off for Jennings.
Jennings was forced to redshirt his freshman year due to the Scarlet Knights’ depth in the infield. Instead of sulking, Jennings used the redshirt year to study the nuances of the college game and learn from the veterans in front of him.
Jennings appreciates the “older guys” taking him under their wing. Like a true captain, Jennings pays it forward to younger teammates who are in the same position he was in four years ago.
“I’m just looking to follow in the older guys’ footsteps,” Jennings said. “I view me helping my teammates out as giving back.”
Jennings has not only assisted his teammates at Rutgers, but just as importantly, he’s helped himself by transforming his game into a better hitter and shutdown infielder.
Instead of sulking at the lack of playing time early in his career, Jennings continued to work hard as possible to perfect his craft.
Litterio certainly took notice.
“John has developed into a very good infielder the past couple of years,” Litterio said. “His hand strength, hitting, and confidence have all improved.”
“It’s been night and day in terms of his confidence. The increase in confidence is a major reason he’s had the success he’s at.”
“But John is just an overall good kid which is a big factor why he’s a two-time captain.”
Jennings’ increase in confidence has led to much success at the plate. But Jennings biggest impact has come on defense. Jennings started 37 games last season and registered 23 double plays in the process.
What Jennings has accomplished on the field is due to the work he puts in behind the scenes when not many are watching. It’s a work ethic that separates the captains from the non-captains.
It’s no mystery why Jennings is a captain and he truly appreciates the honor.
“It’s a great honor being a captain,” Jennings said. “Going into college, it’s something you hope happens. And when it finally does happen, it’s an unbelievable feeling.”