JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Make that two local products coming home to play for the Jaguars this season.
Defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan signed a contract with Jacksonville on Monday morning, adding some much-needed reinforcements on a line that has been strafed with personnel losses.
It’s also a homecoming.
Jernigan grew up in Jacksonville during his early years and then moved to Lake City and played high school football at Columbia High School under coach Craig Howard. The former four- and five-star player was one of the highest recruited players from the school. He signed with Florida State and played three seasons with the Seminoles before leaving early for the NFL draft.
“It definitely feels good being able to come home, especially with Lake City being right there. Like I said earlier, I actually went to school here, elementary [school] at some times,” Jernigan said. “I went to Justina Elementary when I was a kid and then I moved to Lake City. But it damn sure feels good to be home, right here with Columbia down the road. It feels like I’m back in Columbia playing again- purple and gold. I’m definitely excited. I haven’t been this happy to play football in a long time. I haven’t been this happy in a long time.”
Jernigan was a second-round pick of the Ravens in 2016 but was dealt to the Eagles the following offseason. Jernigan spent three seasons with the Eagles, including the Super Bowl win in 2017.
“I remember as I kid, I had a little fake Mark Brunell jersey. It was horrible, horrible looking, but I had the Mark Brunell jersey and I had the little fake helmet,” he said. “My sister was in middle school and I would lie to my sister when she came home and be like, “Hey, the Justina Jaguars need helping cheerleading across the street or whatever.” I would stuff my fake jersey with clothes and shoulder pads and all this crazy stuff. I always knew about the team.”
Jernigan joins Oakleaf High graduate Shaquille Quarterman as players who played their high school football in town to land with the Jaguars this season. Quarterman was a fourth-round pick of the Jaguars out of Miami in last April’s draft.
Jacksonville desperately needs quality defensive line help.
The Jaguars have parted ways with Calais Campbell and Marcell Dareus, had free agent signee Al Woods opt-out of the season due to COVID-19 and another free agent signee Rodney Gunter step away due to a heart condition. Defensive end Yannick Ngakoue has yet to sign his franchise tender with the team and is not in training camp.
“Whatever the team needs. If they need me to come in and be a heavy run guy, I can make that happen, I can do that. If they need me to get to the quarterback, I feel like I have the ability to do both,” Jernigan said. “All I need to really do is just prove to everyone that I’m ready for that. That’s the biggest thing. I have to prove my point that within the next three weeks that I’m ready for the task and I think I can do it.”