LEBANON – Nathan Jernigan has a goal of being an NAIA All-American after the upcoming season.
His quest received a kick start earlier this week.
Jernigan, a former Eagleville standout, along with teammate Justus Dauscha were named to the USA College Football NAIA Division preseason All-American first team.
Dauscha is a former Blackman High standout.
“This means a lot to me,” said Jernigan, who didn’t know about the preseason honor until told by a DNJ reporter. “I’m sorry. I’m just really surprised. I had no idea about this.
“It’s hard for to say what it means to me. It’s really a special recognition. It just represents all of the hard work I’ve put in. It’s really special to me. I want to make the All-American list after the season. This is a little step toward it.”
A third former Rutherford County standout, Brandon Hathaway, was named a Division II preseason All-American first team member.
Jernigan, a 6-0, 191-pound junior linebacker, led Cumberland in tackles for the second consecutive season. He had 99 tackles with eight for loss.
Jernigan also had 3.5 sacks and three pass break-ups. He tallied double-digit tackle totals in five games, including 15 in the season opener and 16 in the season finale.
Eagleville football coach Steve Carson said Jernigan’s recognition was well-deserved. Jernigan was redshirted his freshman year in part because of an injury, Carson said.
“What makes me the happiest is to see a kid that has worked so hard to get to where he is,” Carson said. “He had two surgeries on his leg.
“He was determined to not just go to college and play, but he was going to go to college to be a player. That’s what makes me happy — to see the fruits of his labor. He’s put in a lot of hard work to reach the level of play he’s been playing at.”
Dauscha, a 6-foot-2, 204-pound junior defensive end, recorded 69 tackles with 16 for loss in 2014. He had 9.5 sacks. Dauscha recorded 10 tackles against both the University of the Cumberlands and against Pikeville this past season.
A message left for Dauscha was not immediately returned.
Hathaway, a former Smyrna High standout, had 72 tackles and six interceptions at Wingate in 2014.
“I’m just blessed that everything worked out here for me at Wingate University, especially after the transfer from Murray State,” Hathaway said. “I’ve always played the game with all my heart and soul and I’m just happy it’s starting to get recognized.”
Contact Tom Kreager at 615-278-5168 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kreager.