Rashad Jennings – Liberty University Convocation
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Rashad Jennings – Liberty University Convocation

November 23, 2019


>>JERRY FALWELL JR: I want to introduce Rashad.
Rashad has become a good friend of our family’s. He’s- he transferred during his sophomore
year to Liberty University. He was- he was drafted by the Jacksonville
Jaguars in 2011. He played five years as a successful NFL athlete
before retiring in 2017. He won the 2017 Dancing with the Stars Mirror
Globe Championship. My wife was his counselor during that time,
telling him how to- the girl he was dancing with, he was kind of sweet on her even though
she was engaged. And so Becky was telling him the story about
how when my dad was in college my dad’s roommate was engaged to my mom.
And Becky explained to him how my dad would say- whenever his roommate would write a letter
to my mom back here in Virginia – they were in Missouri in college – Dad said, “I’ll
mail the letter for you.” He never mailed any of them. And so- so he- he ended up getting the girl.
And so Becky was telling Rashad about that. But Rashad just didn’t- I don’t know.
He needed to step up. I don’t know what happened.
She married the other guy. But anyway, this year he’s releasing his
new book, The If in Life. He’s the founder of The National Rashad
Jennings Foundation which helps youth. And he’s a proud- we’re proud that he’s
an alumni of Liberty University. It’s hard to believe that in just eight
or ten weeks we’re going to have teams like Old Dominion playing here on campus on September
1, RMA on September 8- no they’re playing- that’s an away game.
Norfolk Stake will be here. North Texas, New Mexico, New Mexico State,
TROY, Idaho State, UMAS, Virginia, Auburn, New Mexico State again- twice next year.
Syracuse the following year, Louisiana, Buffalo, Hampton, New Mexico, New Mexico State again.
Maine, Rutgers, UMAS, BYU, Virginia, New Mexico State.
So we’re stepping up to a whole new level, and when you guys get back we need you to
be there to cheer the team on. The new bleachers that are up in the air above
the student section will actually- the seats will actually be in place for commencement
in two weeks when President Carter is here. And we- he’s coming in spending two days
touring the campus. And so we’re looking forward to that.
But we got some exciting things happening, exciting things going forward.
And we’ve had a wonderful semester. We were privileged to attend Billy Graham’s
funeral down in Charlotte, and spend time with the owners of Hobby Lobby and Chick-fil-a.
And they’re doing some things with Liberty now here in town.
And we’re just so grateful to God for all the blessings that he’s bestowed on this
university. And without further ado, I want to introduce
and welcome to Liberty Rashad Jennings. [CHEERS]>>RASHAD JENNINGS: I appreciate it.
Appreciate it. All right!
All right! How everybody doing? [CHEERS] Good.
Good. That’s what I’m talking about.
Listen, I- from listening to him I feel like it would be a- y’all probably want to ask
me some questions. But we’re just going to get into some of
this message. Is that all right? [CHEERS] So first of all, I want to say thank y’all
so much for allowing me to come back here. I love coming back to my alma mater.
This is where I’m at, this is where I’m from.
Born and raised in Forest, Virginia. Anybody ever spent time in Forest yet? [CHEERS] Anybody live in Forest? [CHEERS] Cool.
So as I’m traveling the world speaking, dancing, having fun, getting into acting,
writing my book, and a lot of stuff, I always tell people where I’m from.
And I say I’m from Forest, Virginia. And I tell them it’s self-explanatory.
Forest, Virginia. I grew up understanding animals before people.
I’m still trying to figure out people, so y’all could help me out with that along
the way. But first things first, I definitely want
to take the time to thank President Jerry Falwell and his lovely first lady Becky for
allowing me to come and launch my book, The If in Life, and talk to y’all today.
So thank y’all very much for allowing me to come. [APPLAUSE] And unlike when I spoke a couple years ago
at the Commencement, today I’m going to try to be a little bit brief, all right?
Because I know everybody has to get back to box up their stuff and get ready for finals.
And, a shameless plug, I want to give enough time that after this I could meet and greet,
and talk and sign, and you guys can get my new book.
With that being said, I just want to start with saying that I had a- I had a thought
a couple days ago. And I’m the type of guy that always takes
15 minutes out of the day and stop, and I think critically.
And it dawned on me and it occurred that people always are putting themselves in boxes, right?
And I got to thinking if God wanted us to be made to live inside of a box, then he would
have created our bodies in a 90-degree angle. If God wanted us to live in man-made boxes
he would have created us in 90-degree angles. So with that in mind, I’m going to speak
to you guys and girls today about how to live outside of the box.
But not only just live outside of the box, I want to explain to y’all when there actually
is times to dismantle a box. So first I want to say a couple things about
a square. A square, of course, is a geometric shape
that is made up of four 90-degree angles. But I want you to think about it as a box,
and as I go through some of my specific points today I want to show you how to dismantle
it. So boxes are not typically and ordinarily
your enemies. Boxes do have their purposes.
Life needs to have some type of structure, life needs to have some type of balance.
Or otherwise, you’d just have chaos everywhere. Now, again, the primary box has situations
and there’s temporary situations to have a box.
A prime example, how many of you guys are graduating this year? [CHEERS] Perfect, okay.
So how many of y’all are actually going to box up some stuff and get ready to ship
it. Nobody yet?
Cool, that means you’re still engaged. [LAUGHTER] So with that in mind, there will become a
time when you’re ready to box up everything that you have and ship it somewhere else.
Now that box is good because it’s temporary. It’s getting you from point A to point B.
Or you may have a package that somebody sent to you.
Has your parents ever sent you a box of goodies? [CHEERS] Okay, so you might get shipped a box of goodies
full of your grandma’s or your mom’s or your brother’s favorite cookies.
And you can’t wait to tear them things up. Or you might get boxed an Xbox.
And I know some guys in here probably play Xbox.
Let me hear some noise if you play Xbox. [CHEERS] So sometimes things come in good packages
that’s in a box. But also there’s such things as invisible
boxes. For example, when a child enters into the
world, he doesn’t realize it, but he’s boxed in by his parents.
Because the baby cannot change, wash, or feed, or dress himself.
The parents have to keep the kid boxed in, so to speak.
That’s a very little box that gives that child a little room to maneuver, but that
is good for a period in time. Now as the child grows, it continues to grow
the box that he lives in. Why?
Because the child can begin to do more things. He can crawl, he can walk, and long enough
the box expands where they have the freedom to go to the bathroom by their self, hopefully.
And then also they can dress themselves, as long as it’s not in the dark, and go to
school like some people do. And perhaps they can play in the backyard
unattended. And the next stage that the box continues
to grow is when the child gets an opportunity to go freely and stroll around the neighborhood
for free. His expansion keeps growing.
Year by year by year his box keeps getting bigger.
And opportunities are getting bigger and bigger and bigger.
Be he’s still in a box because he’s still under the roof of his parents.
Now there are certain cases as a teenager where our box has a limitation that we still
probably press too much. And there’s a lot of us that probably owe
our parents an apology for how we pressed the box that they put us in.
Now everybody that’s out here is an adult, and where you are standing today, that box
that you live in is much bigger than any box that you’ve lived in before.
But don’t kid yourself, you still are in a box today.
That box is called The Liberty Way. [LAUGHTER AND CHEERS] And some of you, the box that you need to
be called in is the LUPD. [SHOCK] And some of you probably are in the Dean’s
box. So don’t- oh it got quiet.
Don’t act like I didn’t go here. I know what the Dean’s box is about, getting
all the reps. Has anybody ever had any reps? [CHEERS] I don’t know if you’re supposed to be
excited and cheer for that. You just raise your hand. [LAUGHTER] But that’s a box.
You’re in the Dean’s box. You’re under some rule, regulation, and
restrictions, all right? Now as you prepare to head out into the world,
I want you to know that there’s going to be all sorts of boxes that you might find
yourself in. The major influences of your life will determine
the size of box that you live in. Your job, your income, your friendship, the
size of your family, whether you’re married or single, the degree that you leave Liberty
University with, and other many things will factor the way that you establish your box.
That is great, only for a limited amount of time.
So yes, you do want to think outside the box, but that’s not all.
I also want you to learn to think your way out of boxes that you should not be in.
But again, that’s not all. I want you to also learn that there are often
times where you need to dismantle a box. Dismantling a box is so you would not be tempted
to return to it once life gets tough. Now life is going to get tough, and I’ve
had plenty of situations where life has been tough for me.
I was a short, overweight, chubby kid with glasses and asthma.
I had a point six GPA average at one point in time.
Fifth-string running back that said that I wanted to play in the National Football League.
There’s no way possible, any way at all, that I should be standing in front of you
men and women giving y’all a testimony and story.
My box was very limited. And I always had to be prepared for an opportunity
to come my way. Now because I’ve been in you guys’ shoes
before- I’ve sat in- I’ve sat in Convocation, I’ve been to this university.
I played football here, I graduated. I’ve gone on, I’ve played professionally
for eight years. I retired, and now here’s where I’m at
today as I’m pursuing a lot of different things in Hollywood.
So I’m not unreachable, I’m not untouchable. I’m coming back, humbly as I know how, and
sharing some of my stories. And let me fast-forward from childhood to
here and show you a box that I used to be in.
As I was a fifth stream running back- that means fifth-string, literally fifth-string.
I’m talking about we only had four running backs on the team.
The coach just said, “We’re going to give you fifth-string just to shut you up.”
I never played. So we’re playing against our high school
rival and it’s the last game of the season. I’m going to- at this time I’m at Jefferson
Forest High School, right. [CHEERS]
Okay, I heard some yeahs in there. I’m at Jefferson Forest High School and
we’re playing against our rival, the Brookville Bees. [CHEERS] See we got some Bees out here.
So from this, we go out, we get ready, we come out to the game.
Now, when I tell y’all I never played- we come out of the tunnel, we break the white
tape. And as I come out to the side I take off my
helmet, and I always put the helmet down on the ground somewhere.
Why? Because I never played.
And it was me and another buddy of mine. His name was Speedy.
He didn’t earn the name. He was very slow.
So he was not good, and I was not good apparently, to most people.
So me and him would sit on the sideline. I literally- you’re supposed to put- you’re
supposed to put M&M’s in your thigh pads, right?
So I would- I mean, excuse me, you’re supposed to- you’re supposed to put thigh pads where
your thigh pads is. I would M&M candy, Sprites, all kind of goodies
because I knew I never played. So I would reach in here and grab out my M&M’s,
grab out my Sprite, and start eating it, and drinking, and watching the show. [LAUGHTER] Now, again, we’re playing against our high
school rival. You got to imagine me, this overweight chubby
kid, these big red-rimmed glasses, just sat on the sideline, wishing that I could play.
Now through- through this- through this, this story is actually pretty funny.
So me and Speedy are sitting right here with each other- high school rivals.
We had no chance to go to the playoffs. We’re done.
Last game of the season. If that team beats us, they get to go to the
playoffs. So it’s like our Super Bowl.
So I’m sitting on the sideline, kick off, we get the ball.
Now there was a Tennessee scout up at the top just to watch our starting running back
because he was really good. His name was Quincy Freeman.
He could go play at the next level. So I’m sitting on the sideline, first play,
we have the ball. Me and Speedy sitting here watching.
He gets hurt the very first play. Speedy taps me on my shoulder, “Ay man,
you think you gon’ play?” I’m like, “Nah man, they ain’t- *chewing
noises* they ain’t gon’ play me.” [LAUGHTER] Coach puts in the second-string running back.
He goes out there, two plays later he gets hurt.
Speedy, “Ay man, you think they gon’ play you?”
I’m like, “Nah man, they ain’t gon’ play me.” [LAUGHTER] Third-string running back, he goes out.
He gets hurt. Speedy, “Ay man, you think you gon’ play?”
I’m like, “Man if you don’t get out of here!
Man they ain’t gon’ play me.” Eating, still watching.
The fourth string goes in, he gets hurt. Now right here I’m nervous, I’m scared.
Because I want to play, I’ve never played at this point ever.
So part of me is like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. Put me in.”
And part of me is like, “Nah, nah, nah don’t put me in.
I might go in there and mess up.” [LAUGHTER]
Now they put back in the first stream running back because he had taped up his ankle.
So I’m cheering for him like, “Yeah man! Come on, go out there and do it.
Do it. Do it.”
Because I don’t really want to go in, but I do.
He gets hurt again. He comes back out.
Now the coach is scrambling. I’m next, fifth-string running back.
Speedy’s over here, “Hey man, they gon put you in!”
[LAUGHTER] I’m sitting here, I’m like, “Man if
you don’t get off me!” So they put in- the coach is literally looking
around. He catches eye contact with me, and he puts
in a receiver to go play running back instead of me. [LAUGHTER] Half of me is like, “Dang!”
And the other half of me is like, “Yes! I don’t have to go in.”
Kid you not: he gets hurt. This is incredible.
This is all documented, this is a very true story.
He- then the coach has no choice but to put me in, right?
So he’s screaming at me, “Jennings! Get in the game!
Get in the game!” And I’m like, “Uh- uh-” I’m scrounging
around. I got M&M’s in my hand. [LAUGHING] I look, I find a helmet.
It’s not mine. I put it on, the helmet is way too big and
loose. I don’t put in their mouthpiece because
that would have been disgusting. I go in.
Now a huddle is full of 11 people, right? So I finish it.
So there’s 10 people, I come in, I’m the 11th.
And I said, I’m like, “Hey guys, what’s up?”
They look at me, they said, “Rashad, what you doing in here?”
I said, “Everybody hurt man. We got to go, let’s go.” [LAUGHTER] They called the play, the very first play.
I step back, I get in my position. Now the quarterback’s going through the
cadence. “Blue 80, Blue.”
And I’m like- I’m yelling and I’m like, “Hey, hey!”
He said, “Hut.” He opens up, I get the ball.
I’m nervous, I got all this loose energy. I make one person miss.
I score a 40-yard touchdown. [CHEERS] Now at this point, you can’t tell me nothing.
I throw that ball in the air somewhere, I’m doing some crazy weird dance.
The referee throws a flag. It’s all bad.
I run back to the sideline, I chest bump Speedy. He falls on the ground.
I pick him up like, “Man, get your tail up!”
We’re having the time of our life. Again, they put back in the third-string running
back because he got healed up. About a quarter goes through, they put me
back in. They say, “Jennings, get in the game.”
Four plays later, another touchdown on offense. So I’m- my mind is blown.
I go into half time, I come back out. When we come back out of half time it was
a similar situation on defense where guys were getting hurt left and right.
They say, “Jennings, put Rashad in the game.” I mean they said, “Coach, put Jennings in
the game.” They put me in on defense.
I come off the very first play defense end. Said, “Hike,” make the tackle miss.
I tackled the quarterback, he fumbles, I pick up the ball, I scoop and I score.
Third touchdown. Now it’s 20- now in the fourth quarter,
it’s 24 to 21. They’re winning.
All they have to do is run the clock out. We’re playing defense.
They run the football, we call time out. They run the football, we call time out.
They run one more play, we call time out. It’s fourth down.
Only thing they have to do is punt the ball and hope that we don’t score.
Fourth down they got greedy and said we gon’ go for it.
They decide to run a screenplay. I’m playing defense again.
I come off the edge and I sniff a screenplay. So the quarterback tosses the ball in the
air. I don’t know why, but I picked it.
I don’t know what that quarterback threw the ball.
I picked it and I scored a walk-off touchdown. I score four touchdowns, two on offense, two
on defense. We win the game, right.
After that game- after that game that Tennessee- [APPLAUSE] After that game that Tennessee scout came
up to me and said, “Rashad, I came to watch the starting running back, but I couldn’t
help but to notice you.” He said, “Rashad, how are your grades?” [LAUGHTER] I held my head down.
I said, “Well, I got a point six.” He said, “Point six?
You got to try to do something like that.” [LAUGHTER] And I- he said, “Rashad, you have potential.”
And for the first time in my life, outside of the people that are going to support me
no matter what, somebody saw potential in me.
From there, I have two older brothers, they invested in me.
They transfered- I mean they are 10 and 13 years older than me.
I was the whoops-here-we-go-again baby. [LAUGHTER] Now my brothers decided to take head coach-
I mean, a coaching job at Lynchburg Christian Academy at the time, which is now Liberty
Christian Academy. They coached there for free to pay half the
tuition for me to transfer there. My parents took a loan against the house to
pay the other half of tuition. I went to Lynchburg Christian Academy, I repeated
my junior year. I took nine home school classes, nine summer
school classes on top of the regular academics. And I never made any excuses, I never blamed
anybody. I completely turned my life and did a 180.
Now through that, because that was nothing but God- [APPLAUSE] Through that, there is a box that I had to
break out of in order to dismantle it and became the person and found the positions
that I found myself in today. So with that being said, I want to put up
a box and I’m going to show y’all how we’re going to dismantle this box.
Oh, there we go. We got this right here.
So, first things first, this is a box and me and- I’m in a group text with a bunch
of my boys. And we always when somebody says something,
they start making excuses, we just text “CTS”. It stands for “Cut the Stuff”. [LAUGHTER] Cut the stuff.
That’s what it stands for, y’all understand? So the first thing we’re going do to dismantle
a box because there are six sides to a box. We just going to CTS and straight cut out
the very front, because we’re not going to be frontin’.
So we’re going to drop the box and cut out the very beginning of it.
This going to be simple. We’re going to get through this real quick,
how to dismantle a box. So now when you open up the box there’s
somebody in it. That somebody is you.
That somebody is you. We already CTS.
We’re going to stop frontin’, all right? Now that we CTS, we’re going to cut out
the back real quick because there’s no backing out.
We’re going to stand in this fire and learn how to dismantle this box.
So there’s no backing out, we’re going to just break down the back.
Now at this point, we knocked out two of the sides of the box.
Now you may ask yourself, well if the front’s open, the back’s open, why doesn’t he
just simply walk out of the box? Nope, because that’d be too easy.
And because it’s so easy, you’re never going to learn to stick around and dismantle
the box because you can come back to that once life gets tough.
When it starts to rain when it starts to pour you gon’ want to hide.
So we’re going to actually stick in this and learn to dismantle the box.
We’re going to deal with four sides of the box that are often known to keep us from pursuing
our dreams, and they also keep us confined in fear and mediocrity.
Now for the remaining sides of this box, the most important one to break down first is
the top one. Why?
Because above all else, nothing is more important than the relationship you have with Jesus
Christ. [APPLAUSE] Remember the name Joseph means “Jehovah
has added.” God already knows what he has put within you.
God knows your talent, your gifts, and your purpose.
It’s important to remove the top of the box so there’s a direct connection between
you and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. So next box that we’re going to dismantle
is the left side. The left side of the box represents people,
places, and things that should be left behind. Second Timothy 2:22 says, “Flee temptation
and youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace, and those who call on
the Lord with a pure heart.” Removing the left side of the box is not on
purpose of going that particular direction. We are dismantling the box, not just trying
to think outside of it. Like I said before, dismantling the box so
you will not be able to return to it. We want to keep moving forward because we
realize that the Lord has no pleasure in the soul that draws back or retreats.
Again the left side represents the things that we are leaving behind.
So far if we’re in agreeance how we doing it, let me hear you say “Yeah!”>>AUDIENCE: Yeah!>>JENNINGS: If we’re in agreeance let me
hear you say, “Woo!”>>AUDIENCE: Woo!>>JENNINGS: So the next thing we have to
break down is the right side of the box. So the right side of the box stands for making
the righteous decisions. Making the right choices.
And when you get to a fork in the road, here’s a little bit of advice for you.
Always go right because in a fallen world there’s nothing left to do wrong.
It has all been tried. It is old as time is known.
It is tired and useless, so try something new and be a rebel, and be righteous. [APPLAUSE] The next side of the box that’s only left
is the bottom line. And when you make it past the bottom line,
you learn how to score. In life, I’ve learned quickly football never
was my true touchdown. My true touchdown is when I understood who
Jesus Christ was in my life. [APPLAUSE] And I want to encourage every guy, every girl
in here, every man, every woman, every child, every voice, that literally no matter what
you decide to do in life, if you keep God first and you keep chasing him, and you keep
pursuing him, he will always show up in the midst of everything.
And one piece of advice that I heard along the way that’s really helped me amongst
many is learning where to keep your essentials. So I’m going to leave you with this thought,
and I challenge everybody to do this. Before you go to sleep at night, if you’re
able to, whatever you need, the essentials for the next day, put it under your bed.
If you can, if while you’re charging your phone charge your phone and put your phone
under your bed. If you can, put your keys underneath your
bed. If you can, put your homework underneath your
bed. And if you ask why, it’s because the first
thing everything every single morning you’re forced to do is get on your knees.
And if you remember to do that, God will take care of the rest.
I appreciate y’all letting me share some time with y’all, and please pick up The
If in Life. [APPLAUSE]>>FALWELL: Thank you, Rashad.
And he needs to be on his knees because he still doesn’t have a woman. [SHOCK] You guys- don’t just come say hey to Caroline,
come say to him too. Anyway, there’s two- I mentioned Scott Lamb,
Greg Dowell. We’re so glad to have them on board.
I forgot to mention two other family members I got here.
All those projects I showed you earlier, my son Trey has been doing a great job managing-
keeping the construction moving. His wife Sara is- she’s heading up the Career
Center to help you guys get jobs, and she’s taking it to a whole new level.
And so I just want to recognize- both of you guys stand up.
Yeah. [APPLAUSE] You see Caroline, he got his wife at Liberty.
Okay, you need to remember that. All right, I promised you I would show you
that 400-pound fish, so I’m going to do it real quick.
Come on- no that’s not the right one. That’s the sailfish.
All right, that’s the big one. All right, quick- quick- quick, that’s enough.
That’s enough. Okay.
The sailfish, Sam Stone caught that. Sam, where are you?
Stand up, Sam. That fish weighed more than he did.
There he is. Okay.
All right, this- David’s got a football. What are you going to do David?>>DAVID NASSER: Well he have- we have a dozen
footballs and we’ve asked Buckshot-come on, our starting quarterback.
Come on, give it up for him. And we’ve asked Rashad and we’ve asked
President Falwell to each throw- we are- we’re going to throw the footballs out to you.
They’re going to throw the footballs all around here.
And if you get a football, bring it up to us and what we’re going to do is we’re
going to give you a brand new copy, a pre-release of The If in Life.
And so we have a copy of that for you. As soon as Convo is over, two opportunities
today to meet Rashad, get a book, a pre-release copy of the book.
Go ahead and get it signed by him. Get it- so, you know, it’s going to be an
incredible gift. Make sure you come and support our brother.>>FALWELL: And I forgot to mention, Darryl
Strawberry actually started his career at- he played for the Lynchburg Mets before he
went on, 1981. I remember that well.
Shows you how old I am. But anyway, who’s going to throw the football
first?>>JENNINGS: I’ll let Buck throw it- go
first.>>NASSER: All right, hey, won’t you guys
stand up real quick? And again, if you catch a ball bring it up
to the front towards the sound deck right there, all right?
Just bring it over to that blue tarp over there.
Come on Buckshot. [CHEERS] Nice.
Awesome. Hey, can we turn- can we turn this mic on?
Turn Rashad’s mic on.>>JENNINGS: All right, who got some hands?
Where the hands at? [CHEERS]>>NASSER: All right, here you go.
Hey, threw it- throw it- throw it like when you played Baylor.
Hey everybody, we beat Baylor by the way. We beat Baylor. [CHEERS] All right, President Falwell, go long.
Go long.>>AUDIENCE: Jerry!>>NASSER: Come on!
Last one, you guys ready? Come on Buckshot.
Let’s do it. Ready?
Three, two, one! [CHEERS] Nice, all right.
Hey, bring those footballs up here left stage and we’ll give you a brand new copy of the
book. God bless you guys.
Go to the two book signings immediately after this and then later tonight.
We love you! Great year.
God bless you. Get out of here.

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