Rashad Jennings wowed both the Dancing With the Stars judges and the viewers during the Season 24 premiere, and it is clear that he will be making an impact this spring on DWTS. He got off to a great start with pro partner Emma Slater, and viewers are definitely anxious to learn more about this contestant. What’s the scoop on Jennings?
This Dancing With the Stars contestant mentioned during his introduction package during the premiere that he had been an overweight, asthmatic teenager, and many DWTS fans have a hard time picturing that, despite the picture that was shown. Rashad Jennings made even partner Emma Slater blush when they were introduced, and that’s saying quite a bit considering that she recently got engaged to fellow pro Sasha Farber, Simone Biles’ partner.
Jennings showed that he’s got the moves on the dance floor and he may well be a major contender during Season 24 of Dancing With the Stars. From the sounds of things, Rashad certainly knows what it takes to beat the odds and surprise people, and he just might manage to do it again this spring on DWTS.
As the New York Giants detailed in a profile a while back, as a teen, Jennings was overweight, and spent most of his time at Jefferson Forest High School in Virginia sitting on the football bench. During one game, all of the running backs ahead of him got hurt, and the coach even put in a wide receiver before turning to Rashad.
As it happens, there was a scout from the Tennessee Volunteers at that game checking someone else out, and he took notice of Jennings. Rashad scored a touchdown on his first play and he scored another touchdown a few plays later. By the time the game ended, he had pulled off four touchdowns on 14 plays, including two on defense. The scout immediately wanted to talk to him, and Rashad had to admit that he had just a 0.6 grade point average, something he certainly had to work on in order to be taken seriously for college ball.
Jennings comes from a football family, and he and his family decided that he should transfer to Lynchburg Christian Academy where he repeated his junior year, his older brothers volunteering as coaches in order to pay for the private school. Rashad got into shape and made a serious impact at LCA, where he also started playing basketball, and did well at that too. He went on to play at the University of Pittsburgh for a while, but he transferred to Liberty University in order to be closer to his father, who was facing serious medical issues due to diabetes.
The Season 24 Dancing With the Stars contestant excelled at Liberty and was drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2009. Rashad spent several years there, not playing much, and he headed to the Oakland Raiders in 2013. Jennings did well there, but he left in free agency and signed with the New York Giants for three seasons. Rashad was released by the Giants in February, and he hasn’t signed with a new team.
This DWTS contender relies heavily on his faith, and he started the Rashad Jennings Foundation, which focuses on encouraging and mentoring youth through literacy and mentorship programs. His work also reaches out to help other NFL players reach out to start similar programs in their own communities as well.
Rashad, nicknamed Shad, is partnered with DWTS pro Emma Slater this spring in what is her seventh season as a professional dancer on Dancing With the Stars. Viewers love Emma and she’s managed to bring out the best in her previous partners, even when they didn’t seem to have much of a chance of winning. Slater’s best finish was in Season 17, her first as a pro, with comedian Bill Engvall, and last fall she had a quick exit with politician partner Ricky Perry. Could Season 24 of Dancing With the Stars propel Slater to the finale with her buzzworthy DWTS partner?
Could “Team Shad Squad” end up taking home the DWTS mirror-ball trophy this spring? There will be a lot of tough competition this spring, but Dancing With the Stars fans are anxious to see what Rashad Jennings and Emma Slater can accomplish in Season 24. Fans can vote for Rashad and Emma by calling 1-800-868-3411 and many have a hunch that this duo will be bringing some fantastic performances to the dance floor this spring.
[Featured Image by Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images]