Russellville's Nesmith signs with Tusculum
Mike Self FCT Sports Editor
RUSSELLVILLE - As it turns out, Jarrell Nesmith will be playing football at UNA next season after all.
But only for one game.
Nesmith, who helped Russellville reach the Class 5A state championship game each of the past three seasons, signed a scholarship with Tusculum College, a Division II school in Greeneville, Tennessee, on Friday.
Last season, UNA visited Tusculum on September 4 and came away with a 28-7 win. This year the Pioneers will make the trip to Florence, giving Nesmith the opportunity to play in front of friends and family and to get reacquainted with some old teammates.
"I'm looking forward to it," said Nesmith, who also visited UNA during the recruiting process. "It will be nice to come back and play close to home. I'm looking forward to seeing Reggie [Hubbard] and Quin [Suggs], and I know Justin Faust, too. If I get the chance to play, it will be neat to play against some of my old teammates."
Hubbard and Suggs graduated from Russellville in 2004 and were freshmen for the Lions this past season.
Nesmith returned from his visit to Tusculum very pleased with what he saw.
"They have really nice facilities," he said. "I met with the coaches and some of the players, and they all made me feel at home. I just felt really comfortable up there."
Nesmith, one of Russellville's leading pass-catchers the past two seasons, was one of six wide receivers to sign with the Pioneers.
"Jarrell is the kind of guy who will work to get better," Russellville coach Perry Swindall said. "He's already fast, big and strong, and he'll continue to work in the weight room. He loves to play football, and if you love to play football, playing in college is even more fun."
Swindall said that Nesmith likely would have been a three-year starter at receiver for the Golden Tigers, but he played defense as a sophomore.
"He played rover. That just shows his versatility," Swindall said. "He was one of our leading receivers the past two years, and he was definitely our best blocking receiver. He made big contributions on special teams, too."
Swindall said that the need for playmakers on offense prompted the postion switch for Nesmith prior to his junior season.
"We were looking for playmakers, and we knew Jarrell could make plays," Swindall said. "He just needed a little time to learn the offense and adjust to his new role. After he got some experience, he was an instant success at wide receiver. It wasn't long before he was being double-covered."
Despite often facing bracket coverage, Nesmith still finished the 2004 regular season with 26 catches for 510 yards and five touchdowns.