Randon Jernigan is heading into his sophomore year as a baseball player for the University of Georgia. After an impressive freshman campaign, he has a chance to compete for a starting spot in 2019.
Last season, Jernigan had a .248 batting average, as he played in 54 games and started 34. He scored 24 runs and collected 28 hits. Jernigan held a .301 slugging percentage hit one homer and had 12 RBIs on the year.
After the season ended, Georgia baseball coach Scott Stricklin sent players all over the country to compete in various summer leagues.
Jernigan went off to Ohio and played for the Lima Locos in the Great Lakes League. He put on a show this summer as his team went 26-15 and 4-1 in the playoffs as the Locos went on to win the title.
This league was a chance for the center fielder to work on some things and get back to the basics.
“Summer league went good. Statistically, I did really well,” Jernigan said. “Pretty much what I took from it was going back to the basis, hitting wise, stuff like that. Nothing too crazy.”
Jernigan said that this league helped him become a better overall ballplayer.
“I’m playing college-level players and pretty much getting a lot of reps,” Jernigan said. “Any time you rep something, you know you’re going to get better.”
Jernigan batted .343 with three doubles, a triple, one homer, 12 RBIs and 14 stolen bases, and that was for the regular season. In the playoffs for the Locos, he led the way for the offense with a .450 average going 9-of-20 from the plate, hitting two doubles, an RBI, four walks and stole six bases.
Overall he batted .354 with five doubles, 13 RBI and 20 stolen bases. Those stats are pretty good for a rising sophomore. Jernigan batted in the leadoff position and got to use a wooden bat which, according to Stricklin, will help him.
The former Red Terror initially wanted to be a two-sport athlete as he was both a baseball and football stud at Glynn Academy. Stricklin said that while Georgia was interested, being a two-sport athlete at an SEC school is hard because football would have to be his priority.
Managing two sports in college is difficult because each program demands a lot out of the athletes. Georgia became extremely interested when Jernigan decided to choose baseball during in his junior year at Glynn Academy, that’s when Stricklin extended the offer.
“He’s a really good athlete and is a good contributor because of his baseball IQ,” Stricklin said. “His athleticism is what makes him stand out because he comes from a football background. That makes him tough, and it showed. He robbed LSU of a home run last season, and that was huge, but he had multiple big catches at the wall. That football mentality allows him not to be afraid to catch them, and it helped us.”
Georgia graduated outfielders Keegan McGovern, and now Jernigan has the chance to compete for a starting role. When asked if he was competing and if he had earned that starting role, Stricklin said that he’s in the running for it.
“He has a chance to take the starting spot; however, he’s got some work ahead of him,” Stricklin said. “No question he is in the running for the starting center fielder position, he just has to keep working hard and competing.”
Jernigan said he grew up a Georgia fan and that its the best university in the country. When asked what his favorite thing about being a Bulldog on athletic scholarship was, he had to think about it, but the family atmosphere and culture is what makes it unique.
“The best thing about being a Dawg is the culture that the whole school carries,” Jernigan said. “Within the athletics, it’s almost like a big family, and among the baseball team, we have the best team chemistry for a team that I’ve ever been apart of. The culture’s great throughout the whole school, and that’s what makes being a Dawg so awesome.”
However, Jernigan doesn’t forget where he came from and says it means a ton to be able to represent Glynn Academy.
“I have a lot of people pulling for me down there, and that motivates me to do better,” Jernigan said. “It’s overall really good, and there are good people down there, and they help me out.”
Georgia’s first baseball event of the year that fans can catch Jernigan at will be the Georgia-Florida Exhibition which is a part of the “Duuuvall’s Bold City Bash.” The Bulldogs and the Gators will face-off with each at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 1 at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.