Recruiting: Columbia stars Ferrell, Robinson ready for their chance to lead Tigers

Columbia linebacker Jaden Robinson, left, and safety Amare Ferrell are two of the state's top football recruits. (Justin Barney, News4JAX)

LAKE CITY, Fla. – Amare Ferrell and Jaden Robinson know what it means to be in the stands on Friday night in Lake City.

They grew up there, ready for their chances to be one of those guys who shined under the lights at Columbia High school, like a Laremy Tunsil or a Trey Marshall or a Shyheim Brown.

Their time has arrived.

Ferrell and Robinson are the latest stars to headline the Columbia defense and appear on the wish lists of numerous college recruiters. The rising seniors have put in the work on the field and are now benefitting off of it.

According to the On3 recruiting consensus rankings, Robinson, a four-star linebacker, the state’s No. 72 overall prospect. Ferrell, a three-star safety, is listed at No. 99. While recruiting news has happened at a blistering pace in June — Ferrell committed to Indiana last week — that’s only one step in the journey. The first is helping the Tigers get back in stride.

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Columbia reached the playoffs last season, but limped across the finish line. The Tigers ended the year on a three-game losing streak, including a 17-3 loss to Riverside in the playoff opener.

“The process has been going good but you got a goal ahead of that,” Ferrell said. “You got the team first and all that other stuff comes afterwards. So, I mean, it’s definitely blessed to be in that position. But you know, you got big things ahead of that.”

Robinson (6-1, 212 pounds) lists his final four schools as Michigan, South Carolina, Kentucky and Maryland. He said that going out strong is a focus.

“I remember growing up coming out here watching Tre Marshall and all the former players and stuff,” Robinson said. “It was just a dream to play right there on the side of field. … Me and Amare’s time came up and we’re just having the best of it.”

Robinson said that some of the advice from former Tigers stars who came back to the school was simple. Don’t slack with the preparation.

“They would give me advice, like come in and say that Columbia like makes you ready for college though,” Robinson said. “So they say just keep doing what you’re doing and come in to college like you’re hungry.”

Columbia coach Demetric Jackson knows about the Friday night lights in Lake City and what it means to sit in the stands and wait for your turn on that field. When that time arrives, buckle up.

Jackson played quarterback for the Tigers and was one of the state’s top recruits during his time there, recognized as one of the Times-Union’s Super 11 selections in 1991. He switched to defense in college at the University of Florida. Ferrell and Robinson are good ambassadors to carry on that Columbia legacy to the next level.

“They do great things in the classroom, they’re great in the community. Even out here in practice, you can kind of see how they’re leading the other guys,” Jackson said.

“They’re coaching them up there, they’re pushing them there. They’re here every day, when except when the only official visits. But we really like the direction we’re going led by those two individuals. And you couldn’t ask for two better players.”

Top local recruits in the Class of 2023

The rankings are the On3 consensus rankings, a metric that combines grades from On3, ESPN, Rivals and 247 Sports.

No., Position, Player, High school, Ht., Wt., College

115. OL Roderick Kearney, Orange Park, 6-4, 290, Florida State

132. DL Jordan Hall, Westside, 6-4, 300, Uncommitted

163. RB Treyaun Webb, Trinity Christian, 6-0, 188, Uncommitted

196. CB Sharif Denson, Bartram Trail, 5-11, 170, Florida

240. RB Sam Singleton, Fleming Island, 5-11, 180, Uncommitted

247. LB Grayson Howard, Jackson, 6-3, 223, South Carolina

377. LB Jaden Robinson, Columbia, 6-1, 212, Uncommitted

479. S Kenton Kirkland, Raines, 6-1, 176, Uncommitted

535. QB Marcus Stokes, Nease, 6-2, 185, Penn State

567. S Amare Ferrell, Columbia, 6-2, 192, Indiana

598. RB Mike Mitchell, Middleburg, 6-0, 200, Utah

677. TE Connor Cox, Bolles, 6-5, 225, South Carolina

752. WR Darion Domineck, Fleming Island, 6-4, 185, Uncommitted

781. OL Jamal Meriweather, Brunswick, 6-6, 261, UCF

811. OL Brendan Black, Bolles, 6-2, 266, Iowa State

834. WR Jeremiah Shack, Mandarin, 6-3, 191, Liberty

852. RB Manny Covey, Bradford, 5-11, 175, Cincinnati

866. DB Jarvis Lee, Clay, 5-11, 165, Virginia

897. LB Abram Wright, Fleming Island, 6-2, 220, Rutgers

974. DL Ka’Shawn Thomas, Brunswick, 6-3, 280, Wake Forest

1,208. OL Kyland Armstrong, Oakleaf, 603, 285, Wake Forest

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.