Jernigan's Eyes Open to Michigan

Lake City (FL) Columbia high star Tim Jernigan made his way to Michigan for his first official visit last weekend. The five-star prospect was accompanied by his father on the trip, and the elder Jernigan reflected on their memorable time in Ann Arbor with GoBlueWolverine. He also wanted one thing made very clear… his son is "wide open."

Tim Jernigan Profile

Sam Webb:  Let's back up a bit first and talk about how Michigan even made his final list.

Tim Jernigan, Sr.: "What happened is that Michigan... they had kind of a connection with the school.  One of the guys that coaches at the school, actually has coached with the guy from Michigan (Rod Smith) and from day one he has been telling the guy what's been going on.  (Michigan) started from day one after Timmy, way back.  I guarantee it has been every bit of about two years."

Sam Webb:  That's funny because earlier in the year some of the guys I talked to said Michigan wasn't a real factor and Tim probably wouldn't even visit Ann Arbor.

Tim Jernigan, Sr.: "They told you wrong didn't they? (laughter).  You see how that played out?  He's wide open man.  He's wide open.  He hasn't made up his mind.  He's wide open.  It's truth from me.  It's wide open."

Sam Webb:  So what do you think of the coaches up here at Michigan now that you guys have had the chance to sit down with them face to face? 

Tim Jernigan, Sr.: "They're really nice people.  They're really nice, real good people.  From what I see, they're real straight forward.  Everything seemed positive there.  They're building – they're building man!  They're trying to get the right piece to the puzzle.  They're getting them in there.  I really feel like they are positive.  I really think as a father and a coach, they're going in the right direction.  They got the nucleus around him as far as coaches and they working at it.  I wouldn't hesitate one minute... if my son said he wanted to go to Michigan, I would say okay let us go.  That's the way I feel about it. It was a positive atmosphere up there.   I like being in the Big House and the coaches were great."

Sam Webb:  Did they talk about how Timmy would fit in on their defense?

Tim Jernigan, Sr.: "Yes.  The nose guard that started, the junior (Mike Martin); they're not sure, but he could leave early and go in the draft.  The guy that backs him up is a senior, so automatically he's going to be gone.  Timmy got a real good chance of playing at Michigan as a freshman and that's what he really likes.  He really likes the opportunity to be able to play as a freshman coming in."

"I told him he'd have a real big impact.  He's not just big and strong, he's fast too.  Timmy on one of his better days now, he gets off the ball real quick.  He went from 285 to 290.  He probably runs a 4.7-4.8, somewhere in that ballpark.  Actually sometimes he played tailback at his size.  He'll come in on short down and distance. He is a big strong guy, 400 pound benching, and he just a gifted athlete.  Most guys that big don't run that fast and knock you off the ball as quick as he does.  That's his strong point."

Sam Webb:  What about the players?  What did you think of the guys on the team?  There are a lot of Florida guys on the roster like Shoelace (Denard Robinson).  Did you get a chance to talk to any them?

Tim Jernigan, Sr.: "I personally didn't, but my son on his visit, his guy that showed him around was Shoelace.  They hung out man.  He really likes Shoelace.  He said, ‘Shoelace seemed more like me.  We come from a pretty tough environment and he is trying to make it.'  He really likes Shoelace.  He really likes him!"

Sam Webb:  Let me get you on the record about the weather, because in the past some of the southerners I've talked to were walking around like they were in the arctic, and it was 60 degrees outside (laughter).  What did Timmy think of the weather? 

Tim Jernigan, Sr.: "He was fine.  The weather was fine.  We was told the weather would be in the 30s or maybe the 40s when we got there, but when we got to Detroit, the weather was better in Detroit than it was in North Carolina when we left Charlotte.  The weather was good when we got there.  They really greeted us really nicely.  We went on down to the weight room and visited with all the coaches and visited with the players.  It was nice.  We really enjoyed it.  He enjoyed it, I enjoyed it.  He told Coach Rod that the weather didn't bother him.  When it gets too cold they can go inside those facilities.  It is just a matter of getting to practice."

Sam Webb:  What did you think of the strength coach, Mike Barwis?

Tim Jernigan, Sr.: "Oh my god!  He was telling my son some of the weaknesses that he had… actually he showed them to him.  He showed him his weaknesses, walked around, showed him his strengths and showed him how he can develop into being a better person and be a stronger guy to be able to play on the next level.  He really did a good job with that.  He was very convincing.  He demonstrated.  He just didn't tell him, he showed him his weaknesses and he demonstrated his strengths and he brought it all out.  He did a good job."

Sam Webb:  Did you guys talk to anyone else?

Tim Jernigan, Sr.: "Yes, we talked to the athletic director, we talked to the academic advisor… we talked to everybody."

Sam Webb:  What did the athletic director have to say?

Tim Jernigan, Sr.: "They just want to get him down there. They talked about the facilities and how everything was going and how everything is on the way up and how they would like to have him there and as a student athlete."

Sam Webb:  You guys are hearing all of the recruiting pitches right now.  What stands out to you?  What are you all looking for and what is Timmy looking for in a school?  What are going to be the things that set one school apart from all the rest?

Tim Jernigan, Sr.: "We haven't really did our homework on Michigan's tradition as far as academics.  But we were told that they were rated at the top of the list as far as academics.  We haven't done our homework yet, but we really believe what the coaches have told us and we're going to dig it into ourselves.  The biggest thing now is academics, academics sets it over everybody else.  The next thing is (Michigan) seems to have better facilities.  They probably got the best facilities we've been to outside of Alabama."

Sam Webb:  What about distance from home?  LSU, Alabama, Florida, Florida State are all closer to you than Michigan. Is that going to be a factor at the end of the day?

Tim Jernigan, Sr.: "(The trip to Michigan) is two hours.  We figured it out.  Before, Timmy was kind of scared about flying, but once he got up in the air he was alright.  He just had never did it before.  It only takes two hours to get there."

Sam Webb:  Have you guys been to all four of the other schools on his list right now?

Tim Jernigan, Sr.: We haven't been on any official visits but to Michigan. The others have been unofficial.  We just want to watch ball games. We've been to Alabama.  He's been to LSU, but I haven't been to LSU.  We've been to Florida and to Florida State and now we've been to Michigan.  That's his five.  The only one I haven't seen myself is LSU.  The rest of them I've seen myself."

Sam Webb:  This decision process… is it going to go all the way to signing day for Timmy?

Tim Jernigan, Sr.: "More than likely it will, because like I said, we're going on official visits and really see what they got to offer.  I don't know if it is going to go all the way to signing day, but it might go into the Army All-American game in January."

Sam Webb:  Give me your current thoughts and feelings about the other schools on his list.

Tim Jernigan, Sr.: "Florida is a real good school too man.  Florida is a good sound academic school.  Everybody in this area is dead set that he is going to go to Florida.  Everybody!  Just like what you heard, I heard it too.  But I'm his dad and I'm going to let him make up his own mind where he wants to go to school, because he has go to school there, not me.  We're going to look at it from the academic point and the athletic point of it too and just see what the best fit is for him.  But Florida is a good school too. 

"Florida State is on their way back too.  We haven't really dug into the academic side to see which is the better school and what Tim's major is going to be and we going to start digging into that now."

"I think all those schools…when he sat down and come up with his top five, all those schools were real solid academic schools and really good athletic programs. They also have outstanding football programs.   There is not one of them that he picked that was like a down team.  Everybody is on their way back.   We just want to see what the best fit for Timmy is now… what's best for him.  He's not going to just jump on one of these schools and find out they already got a lot of players that play the same position. That's not going to be a good fit for him."

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