A key one finally got away from the Florida State Seminoles.
Timmy Jernigan, the No. 3-rated defensive tackle in the nation by NFLDraftScout.com and the No. 39 prospect overall, will forgo his senior season and enter the 2014 NFL Draft. He is currently rated No. 37 on Rob Rang's Big Board.
Jernigan, 6-feet-2 and 298 pounds, is projected to be a late-first or early-second round pick. While Jernigan is still developing his technique and appeared to be winded during the second half of Monday night's BCS title game, he is also exceptionally light on his feet for his size.
He shows "smooth hips and fluid lateral range to work up and down the line of scrimmage," NFLDraftScout.com's Dane Brugler wrote in evaluating Jernigan. "He does a nice job using his hands and footwork to sidestep blockers and collapse gaps, and has active hands and the upper-body strength to bully blockers. Jernigan also shows improved ball awareness and can anchor against multiple blocks.
Jernigan was a full-time starter for the first time in 2013, finishing with 63 tackles and 4.5 sacks to earn second-team Associated Press All-America honors.
"Timmy was one of the leaders on our defense and a big part of our success these past three seasons," Fisher said. "He was one of the most dominant defensive lineman I've been around in all my years coaching. Not only was he a dynamic football player, but he was also a great person. We expect Timmy to be very successful at the next level and we wish him the best."
While Fisher loses Jernigan, it has been a good two days for the program with left guard Josue Matias, tight end Nick O'Leary and running back Karlos Williams announcing they will return to the Seminoles in 2014. That came on the heels of left tackle Cameron Erving, wide receiver Rashad Greene and right guard Tre' Jackson announcing Wednesday they will return to Tallahassee in 2014.
Mathias is currently rated as the No. 6 junior guard by NFLDraftScout.com, O'Leary the No. 6 junior tight end and Williams was widely expected to return to school. He has played only one year at running back for the Seminoles after converting from safety, and is in line for increased playing time with James Wilder forgoing his senior season.
"I'm very excited that Karlos, Josue and Nick have decided to stay and continue their careers at Florida State," Fisher said. "They're more pieces to the puzzle of our success. They've all contributed to helping the program get to where we are today. We believe another season will help them continue to develop and expand on their NFL potential."