Jernigan has great time at Army game; Blakely not so much

Tim Jernigan is a top target for the Gators. (Photo from U.S. Army)

Published: Friday, January 7, 2011 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 8, 2011 at 6:40 p.m.

SAN ANTONIO, Texas — Minutes into Saturday's U.S. Army All-American Bowl, Timmy Jernigan wasn't sure he'd get the chance to play.

Days before, he seemed probable.

Hours before, he felt it was inconceivable.

Suffering a rib and back injury earlier in the week, the Lake City Columbia defensive tackle spent most of his practice time attempting to heal. After a Tuesday practice in which he said he "dominated," Jernigan was restricted for the remainder of the week. He didn't practice Wednesday or Thursday and said he was in pain during Friday's walk-through.

On a scale from one to 10, Jernigan rated his pain a 12.

Loading up on Icy Hot and Advil, Jernigan willed himself onto the practice field. Jernigan said he received extra help from his uncle, who lives in San Antonio. Both prayed over his back during the week and Jernigan said he put his injuries into God's hands.

On game day, Jernigan said he still felt uneasy until he finally got out on the field.

Jernigan then told himself he needed to make one play and things would be fine. Soon after Jernigan's debut he recorded a quarterback hurry. He continued to break through the West offensive line and after he stuffed running back Harvey Langi for a 2-yard loss in the third quarter, he found his groove.

"It happened just the way I said it would," Jernigan said. "I got the first tackle for a loss and after that it was on. I was pushing the guards back into the quarterback. I probably didn't make the play, but I helped the linebackers and the ends and the other tackle by flushing the quarterback out. I knew he wasn't going to try and escape to my side."

Jernigan recorded a sack late in the game to help seal the East's to 13-10 win.

After battling through his injuries, Jernigan said he was "blessed" to get a chance to not only play in Saturday's game but go through the Army Bowl experience.

"I'm so happy to be out here and play with these boys," he said. "I made a lot of friends and a lot of relationships I want to keep going on for a long time, forever. Some of these boys, we'll be real cool for a long time."

Now, Jernigan will have the tough task of handling the recruiting process. Jernigan said he's down to Florida State, Alabama, LSU and is still considering Florida. Jernigan said Saturday he hopes to visit Florida this month.

One player not thrilled with his time in San Antonio was Florida running back commit Mike Blakely. The Bradenton Manatee athlete didn't receive any carries Saturday and only registered a kickoff for 16 yards.

Blakely said the East coaches didn't plan to use him as much as Orlando Dr. Phillips running back Dee Hart or Tampa Plant's James Wilder Jr. Even when Blakely was in, he was used as a decoy on read option plays with quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. Blakely said he was upset the coaches held him back, considering he made the journey out to Texas.

"I got to know some pretty cool guys, but other than that it was a regular ole' week — a week I could have been spending with my family," Blakely said. "To come out here like this, it's probably the worst week of my life, honestly. I respect all of the soldiers and everything, but it wasn't worth coming out here to not being with my family for a whole week."

Blakely will enroll at Florida Monday and is happy about joining his future team, but isn't happy about not having much time with his family.

"I'm pretty excited about that, but I'm not pretty excited about leaving my family as soon as I get home," he said. "I came up here for a whole week with some people I don't even know. Now, it's time for me to go somewhere else.

"I'm pretty much comfortable with those guys already. I know the people I want to hang out with. I have a couple of friends on the team already, so everything should be good for me."

Prospect stats

* Richmond, Va., Hermitage linebacker Curtis Grant led the East team with five tackles, including .5 for loss. He also won the American Family Insurance Defensive Player of the year.

* West Palm Beach Dwyer quarterback Jacoby Brissett led the East with 55 yards on 4-of-5 passing and had 3 yards rushing.

* Evangel Chrisitian, La., Shreveport defensive lineman Jermauria Rasco recorded two tackles, including half a tackle for a loss.

* South Fort Myers receiver Sammy Watkins recorded no stats and suffered a hip injury.

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