Florida State came into 2011 nothing short of loaded along the defensive line, but that didn't stop freshman Timmy Jernigan from making an instant impact the moment he put on garnet and gold and lined up at nose guard.
Just a year removed from Columbia High School in Lake City, Jernigan was named a Freshman All-America on Monday by the Football Writers Assocation of America. The ACC was well represented, as North Carolina running back Gio Bernard, Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins and Wake Forest cornerback Merril Noel also made the squad.
At 6-3 and 297 pounds, Jernigan proved to be quite versatile in defensive coordinator Mark Stoops' scheme, spending time at both the one-technique and zero-technique positions based on if the Seminoles were in a 4-3 or 3-4 look, respectively. He was credited with 30 tackles, six tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and one fumble recovery, with the tackle, TFL and sack totals leading the way for FSU's interior linemen. Jernigan was honored as the ACC's Defensive Player of the Week following a 34-0 victory over North Carolina State on Oct. 29, and he was also runner-up for the conference's Defensive Rookie of the Year award behind Noel.
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While FSU was one of the better defenses in the country this past season, 2012 has the potential to be nothing short of special. Jernigan will again be a key contributor on a unit that only loses three players to graduation off the two-deep, plus draft-eligible underclassmen Brandon Jenkins, Greg Reid and Xavier Rhodes have all decided in recent days to return to the 'Noles.
Jernigan is the 10th member of the Florida State football team to earn Freshman All-America honors from the FWAA in the last six campaigns, joining quarterback Drew Weatherford and cornerback Tony Carter in 2005, tight end Brandon Warren and safety Myron Rolle in 2006, guard Rodney Hudson and center Ryan McMahon in 2007, offensive tackle Andrew Datko in 2008, Reid in 2009 and Rhodes in 2010.
Of the 28 honorees this year, Jernigan is one of only 14 that were true freshmen.
John Crist is the editor-in-chief of NoleDigest.com, a Heisman Trophy voter and a member of the Football Writers Association of America.