Former New York Giants player Rashad Jennings will compete on season 24 of Dancing with the Stars, and we’re excited to see how the 6-ft, 1-in., 229-lb. running back will fare against other athlete-competitors, including fellow newsbie (and Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles).
Jennings, paired with Emma Slater, joins a long list of NFL players who have participated on DWTS. Previously, Donald Driver, Jerry Rice, Antonio Brown, Emmitt Smith, Kurt Warner, Von Miller, Lawrence Taylor, Jason Taylor, Chad Johnson, Calvin Johnson Jr., Hines Ward, Warren Sapp and Michael Irvin competed on the show.
Here are five things you need to know about the 31-year-old former NFL star vying for that coveted Mirrorball Trophy.
1. He’s a free agent in the NFL.
Jennings was released by the Giants in February and is currently a free agent. He spent three seasons with New York, and from 2014–16, Jennings totaled 2,095 yards and averaged 3.9 yards per carry, according to NJ.com. In seven NFL seasons, the former seventh-round pick has tallied 3,772 yards.
2. He trains for football all morning — and dances all night!
Although the timing for this season isn’t ideal (the cast announcement came eight days before the start of NFL free agency), Jennings insists dancing could make him a better football player. “Football is my passion, I train every single day. I train all morning and dance all night,” Jennings told TMZ. “This is going to add more flavor to my game. I’m excited for this year!”
3. He runs a youth foundation to promote health and wellness.
The NFL star grew up “a chubby kid” who held a 0.6 GPA at one point in time, according to Yahoo Sports. The odds were stacked against him for years, so when Jennings found athletic success, he decided to give back in a big way. The Rashad Jennings Foundation “educates, inspires and encourages youth everywhere through three main initiatives,” according to its official site.
4. He is a man of many talents.
Jennings is not only a football-player–turned–dancer, he is also a poet, archer and guitarist! “Every offseason, I pick up a new fun craft to learn,” Jennings told the Daily News. “This year, I said I would pick between classes to learn a foreign accent or dance. It turned out to be dance.”
5. His secret weapon? DWTS season 3 winner Emmitt Smith!
Jennings said that when he was cast on the show, he went right to Smith for help. And Smith, who won with partner Cheryl Burke on season 3 and competed again with her on season 15, had invaluable advice. “He said go have fun!” Jennings told TMZ. “Look, I’m not claiming to be the best dancer ever … I’m going to have fun!”
If Jennings takes Smith’s advice to heart he might just be able to come out on top this season.
Dancing with the Stars season 24 premieres Monday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.