JC Athlete Has New Look on Life

<b>Justin Tomerlin</b>, the 6-6, 260-pound JC tight end/defensive end committed to Florida State when he was at San Clemente High a few years ago. He's now looking at other options, including UCLA...

After committing to Florida State as a high school junior in 2000, Butler County (Kan.) Community College defensive end/tight end Justin Tomerlin (6-6, 260) never got to be a Seminole.

And after a long and sometimes circuitous route, Tomerlin is back in the recruiting ballgame, and one of the local schools he spurned (he prepped at San Clemente) is back in the picture for him.

"I'm going to trip to UCLA next weekend (January 21-23). UCLA is recruiting me as both a tight end and a defensive end. After being here in Kansas for school, and living in Florida for a while, the idea of being back in California is something I'm really interested in, and I know my family wouldn't mind me being back out there," said Tomerlin.

Tomerlin didn't look much at UCLA in high school, because he knew he wanted to go to Florida State. He said, "I wanted to go to where they were winning national championships. Florida State had just won it and was going to play for it again my senior year, so it was the best school for me. But now I'm looking stronger at UCLA. I know when I take my trip there, I am going to be looking with real open eyes. It'd only be an hour from my house."

Tomerlin, a defensive end for Butler, said many of the schools are wanting him to come in as a tight end and a 3rd down defensive end on passing downs. "UCLA said they'd like me to do both. As a tight end, they could have some playing time if Marcedes Lewis goes to the league. But then I could rush the quarterback on third down."

Not able to qualify out of high school, Tomerlin never got to suit up for Florida State, but will take a trip there this weekend. "The coaches have been great there. When I was in high school, having someone famous like Coach (Bobby) Bowden come to my school was pretty cool. Now I'm a little more mature and I'm looking at what Florida State can do for me as a person and as a player instead of just going to the most popular school."

Tomerlin took his first official trip of this recruiting cycle this past weekend, to Michigan State, and came away impressed, and nearly came away a Spartan commit. "Michigan State was just an awesome trip. I really liked everything about the trip, the school, and the situation for me personally. Coach (John L.) Smith showed me all the ways they could use me in the offense, and how I could play d-end on third downs. It's a great situation. I almost committed, but my dad and I talked and he said to take all of my trips and see all of my options before I decide. So I'm going to take my other trips."

What will the timetable be for Tomerlin's decision? "This may come down to Signing Day. I have the three trips scheduled, and I may take a midweek trip to Kansas State, but I really want to get out of this state. It's a lot different after living in Orange County and Tallahassee."

With four years to play three, would Tomerlin be up for a redshirt year? "I sat out for three years, and it was hard to stick it out. I grew a lot as a person and when I finally got on the field again, it felt great. I want to go in and play right away, and I want to go to a school where I can make an immediate impact."

Tomerlin will graduate with his AA in the spring, and enroll in time for fall Practice at the school he chooses.


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