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After coming off the bench the last two season, Timmy Jernigan couldn't be more excited to take over as a starting defensive tackle this season.
Even though the junior from Lake City, Fla. has played starter's reps some of the last two seasons, he said he feels a sense of ownership when it comes to the defense now that he's on the first team.
"I've been waiting a long time," Jernigan said. "I've been waiting two years so I'm really excited about it. I'm just ready to go. I'm ready to live up to the hype, the moment, I feel like it's my D-line now. I have to step up and be the leader. I've been doing everything I can to make sure my teammates look at me as a leader."
Jernigan said he main focus as a leader is making sure his teammates give 100 percent effort on each and every snap. He's rotated working alongside sophomore Eddie Johnson, redshirt sophomore Derek Mitchell and redshirt senior Jacobbi McDaniel.
The two younger defensive tackles have really stood out to Jernigan so far in spring practice. Mitchell, who's been plagued by knee and back injuries early in his career has really caught Jernigan's eye.
"Derek Mitchell, for a guy who hasn't played football really in a year, a year and a half," Jernigan said. "He's strong, he's gotten even stronger in the weight room. Pass rushing-wise it doesn't even look like he took a break. He's just got to get back used to playing football a little bit, but he's really impressed me."
Goldman, who played in 10 games last season as a true freshman, has also stood out early in the spring. The 6-foot-4, 324-pound Washington D.C. native has caught Jernigan's eye with brute strength.
"Eddie he's different," Jernigan said. "He's big he's strong, he can pretty much do what he wants to at will. The biggest thing is just making sure, like I said with the whole defense, is just coming out and giving effort. When he comes out and he's ready to play, Eddie can be scary at times."
Goal is in sight for Smith
With a starting spot at outside linebacker up for grabs this spring, redshirt sophomore Terrance Smith said he does have a little extra motivation every day on the practice fields.
So far this spring Smith has worked as the first-string strongside linebacker opposite of Christian Jones.
"It's helped me out a lot," Smith said. "If your goal is in reach, there's really nothing you won't do to get it."
The Decatur, Ga. native took a redshirt in 2011 and played in all 13 games last season. He saw action mostly on special teams as he recorded nine tackles, including 1.5 for loss.
With significant playing time now within reach, Smith said he wants to just make sure he takes advantage of every opportunity from now until Labor Day weekend.
"I'm not even going to lie, I was getting kind of restless the past couple years but it's all in the game, waiting your turn," he said. "When you get you opportunity, you've really just got to take it and run with it."
In addition to playing more, Smith is also excited about the new role for linebackers in Jeremy Pruitt's system. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound linebacker lined up at defensive end during much of his career at Southwest Dekalb in high school so he's ready to get after the quarterback again
"I really like blitzing," Smith said. "Coming from high school I played D-end so I really just rushed the passer most of the time, so getting back to some of that is a lot of fun."
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