So what do we know about Erik Ainge?
Well, he’s 6’5½", which never hurts when you’re a quarterback about to embark on a career of peering over NFL linemen to find your receivers.
And he’s the nephew of Celtics general manager Danny Ainge, so the bloodlines are strong.
And now he’s the second quarterback with Tennessee ties and the second QB to hail from Oregon to join the Jets’ roster.
How’s that again? Well, the Green & White took Ainge, the University of Tennessee signalcaller, with their fifth-round pick, No. 162 overall, which they obtained earlier today from Green Bay, and so he joins Knoxville native Chad Pennington. And since Ainge lives in Hillsboro, Ore., near Portland and went to Glencoe High School there, he joins Kellen Clemens, who grew up not close to Portland, across the state in Burns.
On his conference call with Jets beat reporters, Ainge said he’s met Clemens several times.
"I actually was going to go to Oregon originally, but Kellen was going into his junior year," Ainge said. "I didn’t want to wait two years to play because in college you’ve only got four. I came to Tennessee almost because of Clemens. He’s a great guy."
Then when he set his sights further east, he ran into Pennington, not in college but in off-season football activities.
"Chad puts on a camp in Knoxville every year, and obviously playing at the University of Tennessee, I would always go over there and throw some balls to some people and do all that kind of stuff," he said. "Chad was always a very nice guy and he always said maybe I’ll play with or against you some day. So, now we get to play against each other, with each other — you know what I mean."
As nice as everyone is, Pennington, Clemens, Ainge and Brett Ratliff will drop the gloves from here on out. How they’ll line up in the depth chart for opening day at Miami has many months to be determined.
One upside for Ainge is a good arm, which enabled him to finish third in many Volunteers career passing categories behind Peyton Manning and Casey Clausen. One downside has been an injury history at UT. He’s hurt his shoulder, knee, ankle and right little finger, which have cost him games in his four Vol seasons. And the finger injury cost him velocity on his throws as a senior.
That in turn led critics to question Ainge’s arm strength. And in response, former Tennessee WR Jonathan Hefney told the Chattanooga Times/Free Press, "That’s one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard. … He throws missiles, man. I’ve seen enough quarterbacks to know a great arm when I see one."
"My injuries have been kind of fluky," Ainge said. "Have I been hurt a little bit? Yes, but at the same time I know how to play through it and how to be successful."
Then with the Jets’ own sixth-round selection, 171st overall, they found Marcus Henry, a big (6’4") wide receiver with long arms and a developing frame from Kansas who can catch passes this off-season and summer from Ainge and the rest of the Jets’ arms. As NFLDraftScout.com described him, "The light seems to have finally come on to stay for Henry."
Henry’s career has built to his senior season at KU, when he had 54 receptions for 1,014 yards. His 10 TD catches set the Jayhawks’ single-season record, and his five 100-yard receiving games tied the school’s 24-year-old record.
"I think I could be a possession kind of guy," Henry said in his conference call ."In college, I was considered a tall guy who could go up and get jumpballs. I think I could bring that into the NFL and develop that more and be that type of receiver."
Tags: Chad Pennington, Erik Ainge, Kellen Clemens, Marcus Henry, tennessee
Posted in Randy Lange | 53 Comments »