Player Profile # 66 – WR Jerrel Jernigan

Alabama and Auburn did not want him for their football programs when Jerrel Jernigan was coming out of high school in Eufaula, Alabama. Too small was the word. Listed at 5-11, he was a lot closer to 5-8 and he was a tiny 170 pounds.

Four years later, Jernigan has enough evidence in the bank to show he could have handled the action in the SEC. At Troy, he played in 50 of 51 games over four years, missing just one because of injury. When he had the chance to face the big-time schools, he performed. As a freshman, he caught 11 passes for 102 yards and a pair of TDs against Georgia in Athens.

Jernigan is still closer to 5-8 than 5-11, but he’s added muscle over four years and is ready to take his talents to the NFL.

Here’s his story.

FAMILY MATTERS

Jerrel Jernigan

Born – June 14, 1989 in Eufaula, Alabama. Eufaula is a town of approximately 15,000 that sits on the west side of the Chattahoochee River, in southeast Alabama.

Family – Parents are Stanley and Virginia Jernigan. He has three sisters, Rasheema, Shiekra and Tashayla. Dad’s status is unknown. Mom works at a Piggly Wiggly in Eufaula. He was also raised by his grandmother Thelma Dennard, who is the custodian at the First United Methodist Church in Eufaula.

BODY OF WORK

  • Height – 5-feet, 8¾ inches.
  • Weight – 185 pounds.
  • Arm – 32 inches.
  • Hand – 9¼ inches.
  • 40-yard dash – 4.46 seconds (Pro Day 4.40.)
  • 20-yard dash – 2.54 seconds (2.46.)
  • 10-yard dash – 1.56 seconds (1.45.)
  • Bench Press – 11 repetitions at 225 pounds.
  • Vertical jump – 37 ½ inches.
  • Broad jump – 9-feet, 9 inches.

HIGH SCHOOL

Jernigan graduated with the class of 2007 at Eufaula High School, part of the Eufaula City Schools. He had to quit basketball in his senior year to focus on academics and he passed the school’s graduation exam on his last try.

Playing quarterback for head coach Dan Klages, Jernigan led the Tigers to the Alabama Class 5A state championship game in his senior season. They fell to Athens High 10-7. He was named that year the top athlete in 5A football by the Alabama Sportswriters Association.

He was also named first-team All-District and All-Area as a senior and junior.

During his Eufaula career, he ran for 2,390 yards on 270 carries with 37 touchdowns. He completed 86 of 190 passes for 1,536 yards, 13 TDs and 7 INTs.

He also lettered in basketball and baseball.

FOOTBALL

2006 – Jernigan led the Tigers to a record setting season, as they went 14-1, won their region title and went all the way in the playoffs to the state title game before losing. It was the first time in school history that Eufaula won 214 games. They also set team records for points scored with 527 points, including 7 games where they went over 40 points and three when they scored more than 50.

2005 – The Tigers went 11-1 and won their region with an unbeaten league record of 7-0. Their only loss came in the second round of the playoffs, when they fell to Benjamin Russell High 24-10. Jernigan earned All-State honorable mention.

RECRUITING

Georgia State recruited him and wanted him to play defensive back and Jacksonville State wanted him to play quarterback. Auburn didn’t offer him a scholarship as then WR Coach Greg Knox thought he was too small to play at Auburn. Troy offered him the opportunity to play wide receiver.

COLLEGE

Jernigan is majoring in Criminal Justice at Troy University and ended the Fall ’10 semester 15 hours away from graduation.

Playing for head coach Larry Blakenly, he established all sorts of new receiving records at Troy and the Sun Belt Conference. He ended up being first-team All-Sun Belt as a receiver in 2008-09-10, was first-team all-purpose player in 2009-10 and second team kick returner in 2009-10.

He finished up his career as the all-time leader in receiving yards (3,128), receptions (262) and all-purpose yards (5,971) in both Sun Belt Conference and Troy history. He also ranked in the top five in each of those categories among active NCAA career leaders.

Over his four years, he saw action in five different capacities – quarterback, running back, wide receiver, punt returner and kick returner. He took quite a few snaps in the “Dirty Bird” which was Troy’s version of the Wildcat offense.

2010 – Jernigan had a busy season, putting up 2,121 all-purpose yards and producing touchdowns as a runner, receiver, passer and returner. Against Arkansas State, he had 311 all-purpose yards, including a career high 209 receiving yards. He had 277 all-purpose yards against Oklahoma State, including a 100-yard kick return TD. He also had a 75-yard punt return TD against Louisiana Lafayette. In the New Orleans Bowl, he scored a pair of touchdowns in the Trojans victory over Ohio.

2009 – He had 1,101 receiving yards becoming the fourth Troy receiver to reach that mark. Against Louisiana-Monroe, he caught 13 passes for 203 yards. Overall, he had 2,264 yards with 5 TDs. In the < Bowl against Central Michigan, he caught 9 balls for 154 yards.

2008 – A school record 77 catches highlighted his sophomore season with 868 yards and 5 TD catches. Jernigan had 9 catches for 123 yards and a TD against North Texas and that was in one half; a knee injury kept him out of the second half and the next game against Louisiana-Monroe. That would be the only game he missed in his career.

2007 – As a true freshman, he was third on the team in receiving yards with 337 on 30 catches and found the end zone three times. Set a Troy record with 11 catches against Georgia for 102 yards and two scores, including a 32-yard TD off a screen pass.

Season

G

S

Rec.

Yds.

TD

 

Att.

Yds.

TD

2010

13

13

84

822

6

 

45

322

3

2009

13

13

71

1,101

4

 

40

266

1

2008

12

11

77

868

5

 

33

254

1

2007

12

0

30

337

3

 

14

50

0

Totals

50

37

262

3,128

18

 

132

892

5

Completed 7 of 10 passes for 43 yards and 2 TDs.

 Season

Punt

Returns

 

Yards

 

TD

 

LG

Kick

Returns

 

Yards

 

TD

 

LG

2010

23

306

1

75

25

630

1

100

2009

0

0

0

0

39

897

0

50

2008

4

43

0

18

3

53

0

22

2007

2

23

0

16

0

0

0

0

Totals

29

372

1

75

67

1,580

1

100

MEDICAL

Senior Bowl – A sprained right ankle in the New Orleans Bowl kept Jernigan from playing in the Senior Bowl that was played a month later.

October 2, 2010 – Jernigan had surgery on his elbow but played just three days afterwards against Middle Tennessee State. “That takes a lot of guts to get out on the field after being under the knife,” Troy head coach Larry Blakeney said. “He is one of the big leaders on this team.”

2009 season – He dealt with a sprained AC joint in his right shoulder for most of the year, but did not miss a game.

October 25, 2008 – Jernigan suffered an injury to the meniscus in his right knee in a game against North Texas. He underwent surgery on October 28, missed a game on November 1 against Louisiana-Monroe, but came back and played on November 8 against Western Kentucky. He caught six passes for 88 yards. “I am feeling a little pain in it and I didn’t think I would play today, but (trainer) Chuck (Ash) and his trainers are amazing,” Jernigan said after the game. “They got me ready to go this week and it felt real good to get out there and help my team after last week’s heartbreaker. I was just glad to make some plays out there.” Blakeney said: “He ignites us and he makes everyone out there better because of the production we know we can get from him.”

EVALUATION FOR PRO FOOTBALL

Strengths – Great burst coming out of breaks and can run away from coverage from cornerbacks. Catches the ball with his hands and can do it without breaking stride. He is a shifty open-field runner, who shows no fear running across the middle. Jernigan’s speed, elusiveness and versatility can hurt opponents in many ways. He can line up in the slot and in the Wildcat. Teams will also use him as a kick returner to utilize his unique ability to make defenders miss.

Weaknesses – Fundamentally, Jernigan’s game is weak. He’s not a good route runner and will definitely need a lot of work in that area to survive in the NFL. He has a tendency to run before he’s secured ball and thus has dropped too many passes. He’s not tall enough to win many jump balls. He does not react well when a team’s coverage group gets physical with him, although he’s improved in his ability to get off the press at the line of scrimmage. Not much of a blocker and is very inconsistent with his effort in that area.

Analysis – Despite playing 50 games of college football, Jernigan remains a raw player. But the skills he has can be coached and polished enough to make him a consistent and productive receiver in the NFL. His size is a concern, largely because of that long list of medical situations he dealt with over four seasons at Troy.

WHAT THE SCOUTS HAVE TO SAY

A scout from an AFC team said – “It’s impressive how many injuries he had and the fact he missed only one game during his career. That tells you a lot about the guy and what he’s made of inside as a player. I’m not sure whether he’ll ever be a DeSean Jackson-type, but if used judiciously he can add explosion.”

A scout from an NFC team said – “He’s not a real smart kid, and we think any type of complicated playbook is going to make it more difficult for him. With the right team and the right offense, he’s a second-rounder.”

WHAT HE SAID

“When somebody told me I couldn’t do it, I just kept fighting and kept training.”

WHAT OTHERS HAVE TO SAY

Troy head coach Larry Blakeney – “He missed one game because of surgery against Louisiana Monroe and we tried to hold him out the next week, but he wanted to come in and play. I can’t say enough good things about Jerrel. He’s not only a good player, but one who will work in the community and is a very viable student. He is one of those guys that give it everything he’s got all the time. He does so many different things for this team both on offense and on special teams. He is a big-time game changer for us.”

DOES HE FIT WITH THE CHIEFS?

The skills that Jernigan has shown would fit nicely with the Chiefs, especially with the early plans to move Dexter McCluster to running back on a full-time basis, rather than have him handle receiving snaps as well. Jernigan provides the speed/explosion that’s lacking in the KC passing game. But he’s a little man and while he’s proven durable and tough over four years at Troy, he’s also had to deal with a lot of injuries.

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