Tim Jernigan leads available DTs

With national signing day (Feb. 2) around the corner, here is a look at the top uncommitted defensive tackles:


Tim Jernigan (Lake City, Fla./Columbia)

Player rank: 17 | Position rank: 2 | Grade: 84 | Stars: 4
Height: 6-2 | Weight: 275 pounds | Evaluation
Florida State Florida LSU Alabama

Why they want him: Jernigan can present a forceful presence in the trenches and is an active defender who can be like a tornado at times. He has a good get-off though you would like to see him be more consistently quick, but he is capable of getting some penetration. He is very active and violent with his hands and consistently brings them and can create separation and shed.

Recruiting update: Jernigan said during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl that he was 90 percent sure he would sign with Alabama, LSU or Florida State. Those close to the situation believe this is a big Tigers-Seminoles battle, but coach Will Muschamp and the Gators are making a late run. Look for Jernigan to visit FSU this weekend and it will be an Alabama/Florida battle for his last visit Jan. 28.


Gabe Wright (Columbus, Ga./Carver)

Player rank: 26 | Position rank: 3 | Grade: 82 | Stars: 4
Height: 6-3 | Weight: 285 pounds | Evaluation
Auburn Alabama Clemson Tennessee

Why they want him: Wright is a defender who is capable of being a menace in the trenches. He has good size with the frame to add more bulk and also brings some versatility to the table. He could fit as a three-technique in a 4-3 defense and could also fit well at the end spot in a 3-4.

Recruiting update: It's a four-horse race for the terrific defensive line prospect and you could make a solid case for each one of the four schools involved.


Christian Heyward (San Diego, Calif./Point Loma)

Player rank: 111 | Position rank: 9 | Grade: 81 | Stars: 4
Height: 6-2 | Weight: 275 pounds | Evaluation
USC OregonSan Diego State

Why they want him: Heyward is a good-looking defensive line prospect. He moves around the line in high school, playing inside and out as well as from a two-point stance, and could likely fill a swing role in college as well. He will most likely settle in as a defensive tackle, where he could be a handful as a pass rusher.

Recruiting update: This will ultimately come down to a battle between USC and Oregon. Heyward will visit the Ducks this weekend and San Diego State next weekend. The Aztecs are the dark horse here.


Phillip Dukes (Manning, S.C./Manning)

Player rank: NR | Position rank: 17 | Grade: 79 | Stars: 4
Height: 6-2 | Weight: 280 pounds | Evaluation
Alabama Clemson North Carolina South Carolina

Why they want him: Dukes first draws your attention with his size. He has good height and bulk, looks to carry his weight well and has the frame to be able to add more good bulk in time. He needs to crowd the ball better at times and be more consistent, but he shows a good burst off the ball. He's also a physical kid and does a good job of attacking half-a-man, getting into the gap and staying square.

Recruiting update: Dukes has had an interesting few weeks, visiting Clemson and Alabama last weekend and through the Martin Luther King Jr. Day. He has South Carolina slated for this weekend and North Carolina on Jan. 28. Expect him to make a decision Feb. 1. Going into his Clemson visit, the Gamecocks were the team to beat.

Jamie Newberg has been covering recruiting both in the Southeast and nationally for 19 years. He can be reached at jamienewbergbw@yahoo.com.