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Early signing period opens with a bang across First Coast

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Wednesday was the first day of the early football signing period across the country and that made for an eventful day across the First Coast.

Area athletes broke out the pens and signed national letters of intent with college programs.

While most commitments held firm, there were a few surprises.

The biggest announcement Wednesday came from Sandalwood quarterback Jeff Sims, a previous Florida State commit who backed off of that pledge last week. He signed with Georgia Tech on Wednesday. Sandalwood cornerback Derek Bermudez signed with Mississippi after entering signing day uncommitted.

And Sandalwood offensive lineman Kobe Baynes resisted the pull from Miami and wound up staying true to Louisville. Baynes said he received a phone call from current Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson on Wednesday morning. Baynes said that Jackson, who won the Heisman at Louisville, emphasized how strong the Cardinals program was and how much it meant to him.

Another couple surprises came from Trinity Christian running back Kyjuan Herndon, who flipped from Maryland to Colorado State, and First Coast cornerback Michael Smith, who flipped from UCF to Appalachian State.

Pos., Player, Ht., Wt., High school, College

OT, Bradley Ashmore, 6-6, 280, Fletcher, Vanderbilt

OT, Kobe Baynes, 6-4, 300, Sandalwood, Louisville

QB, Carson Beck, 6-4, 225, Mandarin, Georgia

CB, Derek Bermudez, 6-2, 180, Sandalwood, Mississippi

OT, Josh Braun, 6-6, 335, Suwannee, Florida

CB, Miles Brooks, 6-2, 180, Trinity, Ga. Tech

TE/FB, Shane Calhoun, 6-3, 230, Creekside, East Carolina

DE/FB, Kendy Charles, 6-1, 255, Orange Park, Liberty

S, Alfred Chea, 6-2, 190, First Coast, UConn

CB, Fred Davis, 6-1, 177, Trinity, Clemson

WR, Jhaylin Embry, 6-0, 170, Sandalwood, Bowling Green

TE, Cornelius Forrest Jr., 6-4, 235, Sandalwood, UCF

LB, Demond Fogle, 6-2, 215, Camden County, UConn

RB, Kyjuan Herndon, 5-9, 175, Trinity, Colorado State

S/WR, Keonta Jenkins, 6-3, 175, Ribault, Virginia Tech

OG, Avery Jernigan, 6-3, 290, Pierce County, Auburn

S, Tre-Vez Johnson, 5-11, 175, Bartram Trail, Florida

S/LB, Jerome Jolly, 6-0, 200, Mandarin, Liberty

WR, Javonte Kinsey, 6-4, 195, Sandalwood, Bowling Green

LB, Cody Kopp, 6-1, 195, University Chr., N. Illinois

TE, Jackson Mayer, 6-3, 205, Bartram Trail, Robert Morris

WR, Xavier McGriff, 6-2, 180, Baldwin, FIU

DE, Ralph Mency, 6-3, 225, Lee, Middle Tennessee

OL, Cameron Moewe, 6-5, 250, Bishop Kenny, Citadel

OL, Neil Politano, 6-2, 235, Bishop Kenny, New Hampshire

OT, Jalen Rivers, 6-6, 330, Oakleaf, Miami

CB, Jahquez Robinson, 6-2, 180, Sandalwood, Alabama

WR, Tyree Saunders, 6-0, 175, First Coast, Virginia Tech

QB, Jeff Sims, 6-3, 180, Sandalwood, Georgia Tech

DB, Michael Smith, 6-2, 180, First Coast, Appalachian State

LB, Ethan Strickland, 6-0, 200, Mandarin, Rochester

DL, Chantz Williams, 6-4, 220, Oakleaf, Miami

TE, Christian Williams, 6-5, 225, Creekside, Lehigh

About the Author:

Justin Barney joined News4Jax in February 2019, but he’s been covering sports on the First Coast for more than 20 years.