Timmy Jernigan has had an up-and-down high school career, but one thing that will stand out as a major accomplishment is his U.S. Army All-American Bowl invite.
Last week, the Lake City Columbia defensive tackle had his U.S. Army jersey ceremony at Columbia High. After all the speeches were made, Jernigan’s humble side came out as he talked about what it meant to be an Army All-American.
Watching the game since he was little, Jernigan, whom Scout.com ranks as the nation’s top defensive tackle, said all the unflattering parts of high school football training pushed him to get where he is now.
“When you’re going through those hot summers and you’re busting your butt in the weight room and all the running, sometimes you get to the point where you’re like, ‘What am I doing this for?’ ” Jernigan said.
“I guess hard work pays off.”
Jernigan became the first Columbia football player invited to the U.S. Army all-star game and will be one of 90 participants inside the Alamodome in San Antonio next January.
One of the most popular traditions of these high school all-star games is having prospects make their college decisions live on television.
Jernigan said it’s possible he could do the same.
Weeks ago, Jernigan came out with a revamped top-four schools list. Nothing has changed since then, with Florida State, LSU, Alabama and Michigan leading the way. Florida and USC are two schools he’s still interested in as well.
Jernigan has visited Michigan, USC and LSU and came away impressed with all of his visits. His trip to Michigan was his first time in which he flew on a plane and his trip to USC got him a firsthand look at the Hollywood sign, and he saw his first mountain range.
He’s visited Alabama unofficially and will take an official in January. His final official has yet to be determined, but he doesn’t plan on officially visiting Florida or Florida State because he’s been around the programs so much over the years, and it doesn’t take long to drive to either Gainesville or Tallahassee. However, he will unofficially visit FSU for the Florida game at the end of the month.
Needless to say, Jernigan is having the time of his life as a recruit who has been tucked away in Lake City his entire life.
What Jernigan likes about his top four? It’s the “unique situations” each brings as far as playing time and academics. Jernigan said he wants to go to a school with a good academic reputation and one where he can compete for early playing time.
“All four of them, I think I can play as a freshman,” he said. “I wouldn’t say (he will) start. Ain’t nothing going to be given to me — gotta work for it.
“I can play with anybody when I work hard.”
The school Jernigan has been linked to the most over the years is Florida. However, the Gators fell out of the top spot this fall, for reasons Jernigan wouldn’t comment on. However, Jernigan said there’s still a lot of time for Florida to make up ground and he hasn’t completely shut the door on the Gators.
“It ain’t no bad blood down there,” Jernigan said of Florida. “I still keep in contact with Coach (Urban) Meyer. We talk once a week. It’s a business decision (to drop them out of his top four).
“Anything could happen. There’s a whole lot of time.”
Jernigan added that there’s still a chance he won’t commit to one of the schools currently listed in his top four.
Rumors surfaced that Jernigan started souring on Florida because of the Gators’ three-game slide this year. He said that’s not true and that he understands that Florida’s youth is the main reason for Florida’s issues and it’s the playing of freshmen and other underclassmen that Jernigan said he still really likes about Florida.
“That’s one thing I love about Florida, they will play a freshman,” he said. “They will play the best man on the field.”