UF “hanging in there,” Jernigan says


Last week, Lake City Columbia defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan made news when he presented his updated list of favorite schools.

When Jernigan told Rivals.com his top four schools, the one school everyone expected in there was missing — Florida.

Growing up a Gator fan and being one of the fan bases’ most popular prospects, Jernigan shocked many when he put Michigan, Florida State,  LSU and Alabama ahead of Florida. Jernigan described Florida as a school “kind of hanging in there.”

Thursday, Jernigan maintained that Florida is still a school outside of his favorite list, but hasn’t completely taken the Gators off his radar.

“Could things change? Of course, yes, it can change,” Jernigan told reporters following Columbia’s 25-11 loss to Jacksonville Ed White. “I still have three months and I still keep in contact with some of the coaches down there. It’s not like I blew them completely away, but I have my favorite four.”

Jernigan was originally expected to announce on or around National Signing Day in February, but after Columbia dropped to 5-4 and out of the playoff race,Jernigan said his commitment should come a lot earlier.

While he’ll be happy to get the recruiting process out of the way, he’s upset that his senior season will be coming to an end soon.

“It hurts that the season will be over in two weeks,” he said.

Jernigan said he put off recruiting for the most part during the season because he placed so much focus on his team, but has figured out one thing that his top four schools have in common. Jernigan is sold on the immediate playing opportunities they all hold.

Jernigan visited Michigan on Oct. 15, and will visit Southern Cal this weekend.

Whenever Jernigan makes his decision, he says it will be final and doesn’t plan to drag out his recruitment.

“A commitment is a commitment, and once I make it I’m through with it,” he said.

Scout.com rates Jernigan as a five-star prospect and the nation’s No. 1 defensive tackle.


  1. He said the difference is his potential for immediate playing time, Immediate playing time should be earned not forfeited to you because no one else is good enough or is available. Do they think what they did in high school should carry over to the big stage? You should want to earn a spot by knowing you are the best athlete in that position, not that if you come here we will GIVE you a starting spot. Im going to Michigan because they are weaker at my position and I can get immediate playing time, be the best or one of the best at your position on whatever team and you will start. I’m surprised at so many 5 star players that look for the quickest playing time, if they are ready or not for the big stage. Earn it son, don’t follow the welfare system and expect things to be given to you because you are eligible. You are also able and I believe capable of earning what you get in life!!

  2. I respect his honesty and desire to hold true to his word. I have been following this stuff for too long, I can at least respect a recruit weighing his options prior to committing. It is a big decision for these guys and we did just bring in some great guys in front of him. The only thing for him is to make sure what others are saying is true. Because bottom line is Florida plays more true freshman than anyone else. As well, we have rotated DT’s in and out all year. He would play at UF next year and not redshirt. History shows that.

  3. He must not think he is very good. If he saw what our line has done this year and he doesn’t think he can get early playing time, then he doesn’t have much self esteem. If you’re worth a hoot, then you should be able to come in and potentially start next year. Even if you don’t start, (someone mentioned our track record of playing freshmen, and the DL rotation) you’re going to play if you are college ready.
    Buck up, Timmy! You said you wanted to be the next Tim Tebow at Florida, now man up and show us what you have!

  4. These comments are so stupid. He doesn’t have UF in his top 4 so it must because he doesn’t like competition, doesn’t think he’s very good, doesn’t want to work for it, etc. How about, he doesn’t think its the best fit for him and he has the right to pick the school that’s the best fit for him. If this coaching staff really wants him, they will sell UF to him. No. Instead let’s bash the hell out of this kid and call him a loser.

  5. To heck with him. If he wants to go elsewhere let him go! He’ll regret not coming to UF one day but I think it has more to do with team losing. How else do you explain a kid that has lived, ate, and breathed UF football since he was a kid all of a sudden changing his mind? Doesn’t make much sense but it seems to me by that interview he did that he HAS blown off the Gators.

  6. That’s too bad. Although the Gators would love to have Jernigan, he’s not make or break for this class. The d-line class of last year would scare a lot of players off. It’s a shame he might be one of them. A lot of folks thought UF would be in trouble without Spiller when he didn’t sign in ’06. We all saw how that turned out. Best of luck to Tim wherever he decides to go. If it happens to be in the SEC…gator bait.

  7. Maybe he just likes the other campuses better, wants to get farther away from home. Who knows? It’s hard to tell for sure what an 18-year old guy will do. I won’t be too surprised if he picks UF in the end, and hope he does so for our program’s sake. We seem in need of some guys that can truly get it done in the middle of our D-line. But what does he believe is the best course for his future? best wishes, Tim, whatever direction you choose!

  8. What would it matter who starts if players are rotated in assignnments as they should be? Defensive line players get quite tired and rotating players in and out helps keep a defense or offense fresh. If Florida has the studs to do this it would only help all of the players play better. Tim Jernigan would be a good addition but he really needs to go where he feels he would fit best. Maybe someone should coin a term: “co-starters.”

  9. i’ve never understood the need to dismiss a player, his ability, or his mindset when it comes to picking a school based on the potential for early playing time. believe it or not, some players commit to UF based on that line of thinking as well. it doesn’t mean they’re not willing to put in the practice and training to do so as well.

  10. Ratings aren’t always that accurate. Heart, desire, and work ethic are really important. Many stars are “born” after they arrive at the college level. It doesn’t matter how highly ranked, to be good you have to move it up a notch and really work hard. I wonder sometimes if some of the top prospects don’t so this because the just expect to be successful. Just wondering— UF will be fine whether he comes or not.

  11. Guys who look ONLY at immediate playing time typically are the ones who see college as just a step to getting to the NFL and PAID.
    UF doesn’t need guys like that, who are only concerned about their highlight reels and not about team success. Those guys tend to bust.
    If you doubt me, take a look at the last several 5* DT’s UF has signed, and how they did. It isn’t pretty.

  12. Another note: He thinks he will go to Bama or LSU and start right away? Both those schools have multiple studs lined up at DT. Also, Michigan signed a 4 star DT last year, and a 5 star DT two years ago. Either three schools are feeding this kid some serious lies, or he’s decided to go to FSU and the rest are just fillers.
    If he goes to FSU, I think he’ll fit right in with the rest of the kids who are only going there for immediate playing time.

  13. Its good that he has UF in his top 5 but how much of a competitor is he if he is looking to be put on the field. With all the attention and hype these kids gets, they start to believe it. It doesn’t help when some of the negative recruiting is geared towards playing time.
    You can’t blame the kids because that’s all they hear. Its up to the parents to stress the school and total college experience because in my opinion, there is not that big a differences in the elite coaches and programs. In the end it comes down to preference. So, if he decides that he wants to go somewhere other than UF based on playing time, then he was a kid that we don’t need.

  14. Just local FYI on Jernigan: My understanding is that he may not have the test score YET to qualify. –this is most likely the reason for the ‘drift’ from UF’s graces. Kind of a ‘turn on you before you turn on me’ situation..

  15. Why are people surprised? Players today are more interested in playing time and getting to the NFL, not so much “earning” your spot, or winning a title. If he can win a title along the way, that’s just icing, but its usually about getting to the pros these days.