With 16 ½ sacks this last year for Butler from the rush end position, you'd think that Justin Tomerlin would have his eyes affixed squarely on that position in college, thinking of what he could do to make life basically havoc-ridden for the offenses and what kind of numbers he could put up against the best there is in this amateur division of football.
Yes, Justin does look at the rush end position and think about how he's stopping the ball, but nowadays, he's thinking more of what it would be like to have the ball in his hands.
He wants to be a tight end.
At 6 foot, 6 inches tall and with the reported wheels to reel off a 4.60 40, you can see why coaches from all over are coveting his young if only for his sheer athletic ability. They are coveting him as well for something else, his attitude.
"When you strap on that helmet, it's like you are going into a whole different world," Tomerlin said. "It's a personality change and when it's on, it's time to go to war."
That sounds like a defensive player to most, but Justin says that his all-out mentality would suit him just as well catching rather than tackling. "You've got to be intense to go after every ball around you," he said. "No matter who's out there, whether you are going to get popped or not, you go for the ball and just take whatever is coming."
What's coming for the freakish athlete is recruiting attention and a lot of it, some of the same schools following him now as when he came out of high school just a little over a year ago. Florida State was the team that Tomerlin initially signed with, but along with the ‘Noles, Michigan State, Miami, Georgia, Nebraska and Cal have been trying to take their shots.
Unlike his decision making process when he came out of the prep-ranks, however, this time Tomerlin knows exactly what he wants. "When I was in high school, I just wanted the recruiting process to end," Justin said. "Now, I have this sheet of 22 things that I am looking for in a school and I am going to look at them all until I see exactly what I want."
That brings us up to this weekend where Tomerlin is slated to visit Nebraska for his second to last or possibly even third to last allowed visit. It's one trip that he's hoping will be worth everything when it's all said and done. "Everyone wants that visit where everything feels perfect, but I'll wait to see if that actually happens," Justin said of any of his official visits. "I'm excited to get up to Nebraska, because ever since Zac went there, he's been in my ear to give them a look."
That would be Zac Taylor, Tomerlin's teammate, roommate and the starting quarterback for Butler College last year. It's that relationship that he's forged with Taylor that made this visit a reality. "After Zac committed, it was kind of funny, because he was telling me all the stuff that is there like some sort of salesman," Tomerlin said. "I just had to laugh, because he doesn't talk like that, but I figured if he was willing to go out of his way to say that stuff, I would definitely take a look."
Being recruited as a tight end is a bonus for the Huskers, but also a bonus is the fact that currently Nebraska has only one tight end that is figured to be sure-fire starting caliber. With the loss of Matt Herian to a broken leg last season, though, the entire position seems to be at least currently up in the air.
The questions behind Herian don't excite Tomerlin, but the situation Nebraska is in with him being the only solid player right now at the position, that's music to Justin's ears. "I'm going someplace I have a legit shot to get out there right away," he said. "I'm looking hard at those depth charts, so obviously Nebraska has a situation that appeals to me."
Another thing that appeals isn't just the fact that he could be joining one former teammate, but the real idea that he could join one more and possibly even one more after that. With Nebraska going hard after Butler wide receiver Frantz Hardy, that's another friend that might be joining and again, there could be another as well.
"I know Nebraska is going after a cornerback of ours, Jonathan Wilhite, so that's quite a few people I know, so it's definitely a positive for Nebraska if they can get even more."
You'd have to forgive Tomerlin if he's not shy about wanting another go around with some of his former mates. Butler succeeded in going to the national title game this last year. And, one of the chief reasons for that success was the reason Tomerlin is looking so hard at NU right now.
"Zac is just one of those smart players that has the throws and makes smart decisions," Tomerlin said. "I know with him there, there's a gamer that can get the job done."
Unfortunately, Tomerlin never got the chance to catch any passes from Taylor this last season. With the kind of number he put on defense, perhaps you can see why.
Tomerlin has his goals set, though, if he does indeed play tight end in college and while he's open to both sides, with the ball is where he'd like to be. "I want 5 balls a game," Tomerlin said of one of his goals for his first year in college ball. "You give me that many a game, I'll do the rest. I'm looking for an offense that can give me a shot at getting that."
Nebraska will take their shot at giving Justin that shot today. After that, it's a visit possibly next week to Cal. After that, Tomerlin said that he's waffling a bit between taking that last visit and if he does, whether it will be to Miami(Fl) or Georgia. Tomerlin has already visited Florida State and Michigan State.
With that list of twenty-two things, Tomerlin said that there are 3 things that he will consider most of all when deciding where he wants to go, a couple of them already mentioned. The shot to play right away, the offense that fits what he does and most important of all, the feel.
"That's the thing you can't know without the visit," Justin said. "What the coaches are like, what the players are like, the town, the campus, everything. You'd think that when it feels right it just hits you, but I haven't felt that way about a place yet."
"I don't know, maybe I'll get that at Nebraska. I guess we'll see."