SAN ANTONIO – One of the most dominant players in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl was defensive tackle Tim Jernigan. Jernigan helped lead the East to a 13-10 victory over the West squad in front of 37,893 fans on Sunday at the Alamodome.
Jernigan (Lake City/ Columbia HS) was credited with only two tackles, half a sack and a quarterback hurry, but he camped out in the West backfield all afternoon. The fact that he played well was a surprise considering he wasn’t even planning to play because of a back and rib injury.
“After the walk-through yesterday I didn’t think I would be able to play,” Jernigan said. “I prayed on it overnight, and when I woke up it felt a little better. After warm ups I felt like I might be able to go and after I got that first tackle I knew I would be okay.”
Jernigan said after the game that several of his East teammates were trying to persuade him to attend their colleges.
“(Richmond, Va./ Hermitage HS linebacker) Curtis Grant has been trying to get me to cross over, but I won’t put it out where he’s going until he commits,” Jernigan said. “(Bradenton/ Manatee HS running back) Mike Blakely has been talking to me a lot about Florida, and (Tampa/ Plant HS running back) James Wilder has been on me about Florida State,” Jernigan said.
“So there are a lot of mixed emotions in there for me.”
So when will Jernigan make a final decision?
“I don’t really have a choice; I will have to wait until signing day,” Jernigan said. “With Alabama’s defensive line coach (Bo Davis) leaving, and Les Miles might be leaving for Michigan.”
The uncertainty in the college coaching world has Jernigan concerned.
“To me right now it’s going to be a matter of trust,” Jernigan said. “You know, who can I trust the most, that’s the biggest thing to me.”
Just a few days ago, the No. 4 defensive tackle in the country said that he was 90-percent sure he would be attending either Florida State, Alabama or LSU and that he would probably not be visiting Florida.
According to Jernigan things change on a daily basis for him. So will he visit Florida before signing day on Feb. 2?
“It’s possible, it’s possible,” Jernigan said. “Everything with my recruitment changes daily, so it’s possible.”
NEW DEFENSIVE END ON BOARD
Four-star defensive end Jermauria Rasco (6-3/249, Shreveport, La./ Evangel HS) is a new name to the Florida recruiting board. Rasco credits Florida head coach Will Muschamp for his sudden interest in the Gators.
“I’m considering Florida now because of coach Muschamp,” Rasco said. “He called me last week and we talked a little bit, and he talked to my mom for a while. I’m trying to set up a visit to Florida but I’m not sure what weekend that will be.”
Rasco, who is also considering Florida State, Alabama, LSU and Arkansas, but does not list any school as the leading candidate for his signature.
So how did his interest in Florida transpire?
“When (Muschamp) was at Texas we had a great relationship, Rasco said. “He was going to be my main reason for going to Texas, after I heard that he left I didn’t think he would get in contact with me.
“Before you know it, he hit me up, and asked if I would mind coming out to Florida to check it out, and I said ‘yeah.’”
Rasco says he plans to wait until signing day to make a decision.
BLAKELY BUSY RECRUITING WHILE SITTING ON SIDELINE
Florida’s lone commit in the game running back Mike Blakely (5-9/194, Bradenton/Manatee) was upset after the game for a lack of playing time and carries. On the day Blakely had no carries and only one kick return for 16 yards.
Blakely, who said after the game that he will be heading to Gainesville on Monday, said he was excited to get to Gainesville but sad for another reason.
“I’m kind of sad,” Blakely said. “I spent the whole week here, not with my family, just to come here and not play.”
Blakely’s high school coach Joe Kinnan said after the game that he has never seen an all-star game use a rotation like Saturday’s game, and that he was very disappointed that Blakely didn’t get more playing time or carries. He said the point is to rotate guys and let every play and everyone get a few carries. Kinnan added that he might consider the other all-star games for his players in the future.
Blakely’s lack of playing time didn’t deter him from trying to convince other players to attend Florida.
“Yeah I’m trying to get Jern (Jernigan), Pagan (DE Jeoffrey Pagan), and Stew (LB Tony Steward),” Blakely said. “I’m trying to get them, that’s high-class right there. We need those guys.”
According to Blakely, those highly rated players will visit Florida.
“They all told me they would be visiting in the next couple weeks,” Blakely said. “Curtis Grant said he would be visiting too. I told them I would be up there so they should hit me up when they are in town.”
- Grant was named American Family Insurance Defensive Player of the Year. Grant finished his senior season with 74 tackles, 16 tackles-for-loss, six pass breakups, two interceptions, and two forced fumbles.
Grant registered five tackles and 0.5 tackles-for-loss in Saturday’s game.
- Orlando (Dr. Phillips HS) running back Dee Hart, who was considering Florida, announced that he will be attending Alabama with his teammate Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix.
Hart, who won the Army Player of the Year award yesterday, was also named the offensive MVP of the Army All-American Bowl. Hart finished with 101 yards on only eight carries, becoming the first 100-yd rusher in the 11-year history of the game.
- South Fort Myers (South Fort Myers HS) wide receiver Sammy Watkins said after the game the East squad used him as a decoy because of a hip injury he sustained early in the game.
Watkins, who said earlier this week that he was planning to visit Florida, now says he’s not 100-percent sure he will do that.
“I have talk about it with my parents,” Watkins said. “More than likely they are going to say no, but I just don’t know yet.”
“I’m still a solid commit to Clemson, and will sign with them on February 2.”