ACC: Tim Jernigan

ACC underclassmen watch

January, 8, 2014
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The deadline to declare for the NFL draft is one week from today. Let us take a quick look at who has already announced their intentions, and who is still mulling over their decision.

Turning pro

Also, a source told ESPN's Joe Schad that Florida State running back James Wilder Jr. will enter for the draft. Of these players who have already declared, only Watkins and Ebron are listed on the latest Mel Kiper Big Board. Watkins and Ebron are near locks to go early in the draft. But the prospects are less certain for the others who have already declared.

Still waiting on

Jernigan, Benjamin and Beasley are all listed on the Kiper Big Board. Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said Tuesday at his post-championship news conference he expects only a few players to leave early for the draft.

Also of note, Virginia Tech safety Kyshoen Jarrett announced on Twitter that he will return to school for his senior season.

ACC's top freshmen in 2011

December, 13, 2011
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It was the Year of the Freshman in the ACC, as rookies were some of the league’s top players and made immediate contributions. Maryland’s defense wouldn’t have survived this year without its first-year players, and Wake Forest had the league’s defensive rookie of the year. Nobody, though, made a bigger splash nationally than Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins. Here’s a look at some of the top true and redshirt freshmen from 2011:

Offense:

[+] EnlargeSammy Watkins
Joshua S. Kelly/US PresswireSammy Watkins' numbers were off the charts for Clemson in 2011.
Clemson WR Sammy Watkins: He broke ACC freshman records for receptions (77), receiving yards (1,153) and touchdown receptions (11) -- the best totals in the nation among freshmen this season. His reception yardage total is the best in Clemson history regardless of class. Watkins had three games with at least 150 receiving yards, already a Clemson career record for 150-yard receiving games.

North Carolina RB Giovani Bernard: The redshirt freshman led North Carolina in rushing this year with 1,222 yards and 13 rushing touchdowns. He ranks third in the ACC in rushing and has more rushing yards than any other freshman nationally. With still one game remaining in his season, his yardage total is the third-best by an ACC freshman.

FSU WR Rashad Greene: Despite playing in only eight games, Greene finished as Florida State's leading receiver. He caught 33 passes for 497 yards and scored six touchdowns. An ankle injury derailed his season, but he could be one of FSU’s elite receivers in the years to come.

Defense:

Wake Forest CB Merrill Noel: The redshirt freshman currently is tied for the national lead in passes defended with 20, including one interception and 19 pass breakups. Noel finished the regular season with 59 tackles, including 48 solo stops.

FSU DE Tim Jernigan: He had six tackles for loss, including 2.5 sacks. He also had three quarterback hurries and recovered a fumble. Jernigan finished second in the voting for the ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year award.

Miami LB Denzel Perryman: He finished the season ranked first among ACC freshmen with 69 tackles and played in all 12 games. He finished his freshman season ranked second on the team in tackles (69) and tied for third on the team in tackles for loss (6.5).

Virginia CB Demetrious Nicholson: Nicholson started all 12 games and has 56 tackles (39 unassisted), eight pass breakups and two interceptions entering the Chick-fil-A Bowl against Auburn.

Ones to watch for 2012:

FSU S Karlos Williams: He was the No. 5 overall player in the ESPNU 150 Class of 2011, but his playing time this year came sparingly. He played in all 12 of the Seminoles' games and had eight tackles in a limited role. He made an impact on special teams, but he wasn’t on the field enough for FSU fans to enjoy his sheer speed and athleticism. Lamarcus Joyner has the free safety position locked up, but at strong safety, Williams was behind veteran Terrance Parks and junior Nick Moody. While Williams probably has more natural ability than both, his knowledge of coordinator Mark Stoops’ scheme could be the difference in how much more he sees the field next year.

Miami DE Anthony Chickillo: He started nine games and played in all 12. Of his 38 tackles, 6.5 were behind the line of scrimmage, including five sacks. Chickillo also forced and recovered a fumble and registered a quarterback hurry. He finished third in the media's vote for ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Clemson OLB Stephone Anthony: He finished the year with 31 tackles, two sacks and two forced fumbles.

FSU TE Nick O'Leary: He caught 12 passes for 164 yards in 2011. He’s next in line behind senior Beau Reliford and could have a breakout season in 2012.

FSU RB James Wilder Jr.: He rushed 31 times for 150 yards and one touchdown as the third-string running back in a crowded backfield. His role should increase next year.

Previewing today's ACC awards

November, 29, 2011
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The ACC is expected to announce the league’s Rookie of the Year, Defensive Rookie of the Year, Offensive Rookie of the Year and ACC Coach of the Year around 1 p.m. today. It will be interesting to see who wins what, but if there’s one true freshman in the league who can’t be ignored, it’s Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins.

He’s No. 15 in the country in receiving yards per game, No. 25 in total receiving yards, fourth in the ACC in scoring and second in kick return average. He also leads the ACC in all-purpose yardage. It should be a tight race with UNC tailback Giovani Bernard, who is third in the ACC in rushing and tied for first in the ACC with 14 touchdowns. Bernard became the first UNC freshman to earn first-team All-ACC honors since cornerback Dre' Bly in 1996. He rushed for a school freshman record 1,222 yards and led all ACC running backs with 13 rushing touchdowns. He became the first Tar Heel to rush for 1,000 yards since Jonathan Linton in 1997.

Defensively, Wake Forest cornerback Merrill Noel, a redshirt freshman, should be a front-runner, as he leads the nation in passes broken up with 19. He also leads the country in passes defended with 20. Noel finished the season third on the team with 59 total tackles including 48 solo stops. Florida State true freshman defensive tackle Tim Jernigan and Miami freshman linebacker Denzel Perryman should also receive consideration.

As for the Coach of the Year race, there’s no shortage of candidates this year, as Mike London, Jim Grobe, and Dabo Swinney have all exceeded expectations, and of course Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer has done another outstanding job -- this time with a first-year starting quarterback and an injury-laden defense. Swinney has probably been the front-runner for most of the season, but the Tigers have faltered down the stretch. NC State coach Tom O’Brien has also done an impressive job, rallying his team to a bowl game when many counted the Pack out.

Grobe deserves consideration because he transformed a three-win team from last year into a bowl team this year and put the Deacs in contention to win the Atlantic Division title this year. London, though, might have made the biggest difference this year, and it was only his second season. The Cavaliers were picked to finish fifth in their division and last week had a chance to win it all before losing 38-0 to Virginia Tech.

I’m fortunate I don’t have to pick until AFTER the ACC championship game, because to me, that makes a difference. What if Swinney gets it together and shocks everyone with another convincing win over the Hokies? What if Beamer steamrolls the Tigers like he did last week against Virginia?

To me, this race isn’t over yet, but if I had to predict who would win today, I’d go with London.

Check the blog around 1 p.m. for the final results.

Tim Jernigan picks Florida State

February, 2, 2011
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The Seminoles' defensive line just got better with the commitment of defensive tackle Tim Jernigan, the No. 17 player in the ESPNU 150 and No. 2 player at his position. Jernigan said he was going to follow his heart, and his heart was in Tallahassee.

"I chose Florida State because it was a little closer to home," he said on ESPNU.

Jernigan also said he wanted to be a role model in his community. That's worth six stars, if you ask me.

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