Rashad Jennings is turning out to be the frontrunner to win among the Dancing With the Stars 2017 cast, with his exceptional skills in the ballroom. Rashad and his Dancing With the Stars partner, Emma Slater, earned the first 10s of the season this past week, and they’re showing no signs of slowing down.
Rashad and Emma’s dance on this past Monday’s Dancing With the Stars earned 10s from judges Carrie Ann Inaba, Julianne Hough and Bruno Tonioli; Len Goodman gave them a 9. Their dance, a contemporary routine set to “Unconditionally” by Katy Perry, earned the highest score of the 2017 season yet — a 39 out of 40.
None of the other Dancing With the Stars 2017 cast members earned a 10 this week, putting Jennings at the top of the leaderboard. As of Week 4, he and Slater have the best average score of the season, at 33.4 out of 40. Their biggest competition is Simone Biles and Sasha Farber, with an average of 33.2, while Heather Morris and Maks Chmerkovskiy (who was replaced by Alan Bersten in Week 2) have a 32.4 average. Normani Kordei and Val Chmerkovskiy and Nancy Kerrigan and Artem Chigvintsev are the only other couples in the 2017 cast that have an average score of 30 or higher.
Can Rashad and Emma defeat their tough competition and win Dancing With the Stars’ Spring 2017 season? Their trajectory is strong right now and they could benefit from their fellow high-scoring celebs splitting the vote due to their similarities. Heather, Simone and Normani are all young women who likely appeal to a younger demographic overall, and even if their fanbases aren’t exactly overlapping, they could end up splitting the vote among Dancing With the Stars‘ youth viewership. This could very well make way for Rashad, who has crossover appeal as an NFL star with charisma and raw talent, as observed by fans on the Dancing With the Stars Facebook page.
Jennings told the emotional story of his relationship with his father on this week’s Dancing With the Stars, in honor of the show’s “Most Memorable Year” Week. In a clip package before his dance, the 32-year-old football star spoke of his father not really being there for him earlier in his life.
“My dad was closed off when I was younger. Any time you would try to get closer to him, he would turn to alcohol. His idea of love was to provide financially. He provided, and faded away.”
It was revealed in the Dancing With the Stars clip package that Jennings’ father had to have his leg amputated due to complications of a stroke and diabetes. In his youth, Rashad had to decide between a full scholarship to college with NFL prospects and helping out his family, and he ultimately chose the latter.
“My parents didn’t want me to transfer, the media thought I was crazy and said I was throwing away my dreams, but it was bigger than football,” Jennings said. “It was my family.”
Jennings’ decision led him to having a better relationship with his father, and the clip showed both his mother and father getting very emotional about their son’s sacrifice. While he would ultimately find success in the NFL regardless, his decision to stay closer to his family clearly meant the world to them.
With clear skills on the Dancing With the Stars ballroom and an emotionally resonant story for the audience to get behind, Rashad is proving his frontrunner status more and more. The trick will be whether he can keep up this momentum all the way through May, when the Mirrorball trophy for the Spring 2017 season of Dancing With the Stars will be handed out.
Dancing With the Stars 2017 airs Monday nights at 8 p.m. Eastern on ABC.
[Featured Image by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP]