Anthony Jennings’ career at LSU ended in opposite fashion to the way it began.
Jennings, the Tigers’ 2014 starting quarterback, plans to transfer from the school, LSU announced Thursday. Jennings will remain at LSU through the spring semester, graduating in May, making him immediately eligible to play anywhere.
The announcement came about two and a half year after the Georgia native opened his career by leading the Tigers on a 99-yard, last-minute, game-winning touchdown drive against Arkansas.
“Anthony did a lot of really good things for our program,” coach Les Miles said in a statement from the school. “As a freshman, he came in for an injured Zach Mettenberger and led us to a last-minute win over Arkansas and then he helped us to eight wins the following year as a sophomore.
“This is an opportunity for Anthony to put himself in a position to help another team have success. We wish him nothing but good fortune in the future and we appreciate all that he did while he was part of our program.”
Jennings did not return a message for comment, but he released a statement on his Twitter account late Thursday night thanking LSU for giving him the opportunity to play and earn a degree.
“So many memories from hearing the fans roar on that 99 yard drive against Arkansas to beating UF in The Swamp,” the message read. “I will always be a Tiger. Forever LSU.”
Jennings was absent during the media’s 25-minute viewing windows of the first two days of spring practice on Monday and Tuesday. He was present early during Monday’s practice before he left the practice field, school spokesman Michael Bonnette confirmed on Monday. A reason for him leaving was not released.
Jennings’ departure doesn’t change much in LSU’s quarterback race. Incumbent starter Brandon Harris and Purdue transfer Danny Etling were expected to be the favorites competing for the starting job this year.
Harris started every game last season after beating out Jennings last year. Jennings landed in some off-the-field trouble last summer. He was suspended for six weeks following his arrest for unauthorized entry into a dwelling.
LSU reinstated Jennings after East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore did not charge him and two other football players – defensive back Dwayne Thomas and defensive lineman Maquedius Bain – with a crime.
Jennings finishes his LSU career with a 9-4 record as a starter, but his most noteworthy moment might not have come during a start. The then-true freshman replaced injured Zach Mettenberger in that game against Arkansas, the Tigers’ regular season finale.
He started his first and only drive of the game with LSU down 27-24 and 1 minute, 52 second remaining, the Tigers backed up on their own 1.
He hit Dillon Gordon for 16 yards, Jarvis Landry for 11 and he ran for 21 yards to set up the winning score – a 49-yard touchdown pass to Travin Dural on a play called “Tsunami.”
His career slid from there. He completed just 48.9 percent of his passes as a starter in 2014, the worst for an LSU QB since Marcus Randall completed 48.1 percent in 2002. LSU yanked him for the true freshman Harris in the middle of the season, a move that backfired in a 41-7 loss to Auburn.
Jennings finished the year as the Tigers’ starter, passing for 1,611 yards, 10 touchdowns and seven interceptions before losing the job to Harris last year.
Under Miles, LSU has signed 14 quarterbacks from 2006-2015. Three of them completed their careers at LSU, and just two of them played all four years with the Tigers. Eight of them were dismissed, transferred or never made it to campus.
Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter @RossDellenger.