Randon Jernigan and Will Bowdoin have been playing baseball together for almost their entire lives. It’s only appropriate that the Glynn Academy seniors sign their national letters of intent to play college baseball on the same stage at the same time.
Jernigan signed to continue his athletic career at the University of Georgia while Bowdoin inked his commitment to Mercer University on Thursday at the school’s auditorium.
“We’ve known each other since we were 5 or 6 years old and played together since we were that age,” Bowdoin said. “It was really cool being able to sign with him on the same day, at the same school and in the same place.”
Jernigan, who also is the quarterback of the Red Terror football team, had offers for both baseball and football. He chose baseball because of his upside in the sport.
“I chose baseball because I felt my ceiling was a little bit higher as a player,” Jernigan said. “I chose Georgia because what Georgia boy doesn’t want to play at Georgia.”
Jernigan is a three-time all-region selection in baseball, including a region player of the year award, and has been named team MVP and the team’s offensive MVP. Jernigan has also been an all-region and all-state selection on the gridiron.
“When he was on base, we were very good. He was our offensive catalyst,” said former Glynn Academy and current Frederica Academy baseball coach Greg Roberts during the ceremony.
Putting pen to paper Thursday also allows Jernigan to turn his full attention to today’s Class 6A first-round playoff football game against Valdosta.
“I’ve been waiting on this day for a long time,” Jernigan said. “I’m kind of glad it’s over so we can look forward to (today) when we play Valdosta. Hopefully, we’ve got five weeks left (of football).”
Glynn football coach Rocky Hidalgo said Jernigan has that ‘it’ factor that all great athletes carry with them on the field.
“Everybody in the stadium knows that kid is going to make a play,” Hidalgo said. “You can’t coach that, you can’t teach it. He’s just one of those guys that has it, and he’s got it on the football field and the baseball field.”
During the ceremony, Hidalgo also talked about his attempts to recruit Bowdoin to the football field. The coach has seen Bowdoin play and the effort he puts out in the weight room.
“Will’s a really good athlete,” Hidalgo said. “Sometimes he’s overshadowed by how fast Randon is, but Will can really run. He’s just an incredible kid. His parents should be really proud.”
Roberts said Bowdoin comes across as a laid-back individual, but the coach described him as a “ruthless competitor” when he takes the field.
“He’s mean, he’s nasty and he just hates to lose,” Roberts said. “That’s a giant piece to a lot of his success.”
During his time at Glynn, Bowdoin has started every game at Glynn Academy and racked up accolades like being a three-time all-region selection, a three-time team MVP and an all-state selection.
Mercer was the second school to offer Bowdoin. He got his first offer from Lipscomb University and also had Kennesaw State on his short list. He made up his mind after visiting Mercer’s campus.
“I spent some time talking with my parents and prayed about it for a couple of weeks,” Bowdoin said. “I went up to visit Mercer and just fell in love with the campus, the coaches and players. It just felt like a family.”
Bowdoin said he feels good about where his stuff is as a pitcher, but would like to add more to improve his repertoire.
“I have a fastball, curveball and change-up right now. I’ll probably add a slider, which is more deceptive for college hitters than a curveball,” Bowdoin said. “I’m just going to work on my mechanics, get my velocity up and get ready to face college hitters in a good Division I conference.”
Both Jernigan and Bowdoin are looking to end their senior seasons on a strong note. In Jernigan’s ideal situation, that would mean two state championships — one for football and one for baseball.
“I’ve only wanted to win at least one state championship,” Jernigan said. “If I could win them both — I’ve prayed for it. We’ll see what happens.”
Bowdoin’s goal are simple, go out with a bang with region and state championships.
“Whatever it takes to win and have a good, fun last year of baseball at the high school level,” Bowdoin said.