FORT WAYNE — Bishop Luers senior defensive back TyVel Jemison prides himself on being a physical player, but it wasn’t always that way.
“I always had the cover skills,” said Jemison, who plays safety for the three-time defending Class 2A state champion Knights.
“I just wasn’t physical enough. I always had the heart to hit somebody, but my tackling technique wasn’t there.”
The 5-foot-10, 180-pound Jemison and the other playmakers will try to take another step closer in the Knights’ (9-4) quest for a fourth straight state title in the semistate tonight at Andrean (11-2).
His improved physical play has caught the eye of Purdue, which has made a scholarship offer.
“I understand that colleges love the corners and safeties that can come down and hit, so I like to separate myself with my physicalness,” Jemison said. “My improvement has come from tackling. You can’t have missed tackles on the last line of defense. I like to bring the thunder. I like to hit people.”
Jemison said the Boilers are recruiting him to play cornerback, but he wouldn’t be against playing safety.
“Everybody else tells me is depends on how much weight I put on, and my speed,” he said. “I want to play safety, but I might be a nickel back, too.”
Any commitment to the Boilermakers depends on Jemison showing improvement in his grades.
“I started out real bad my freshman year, and then I started improving a little bit each year,” Jemison said of his academic work. “They are waiting on my SAT scores and see if they go up, which they did. Then they were ready for me to commit. They are just waiting for me, with open arms. That’s what I like to hear from coaches.”
Jemison has shown versatility for Luers (9-4), getting time at running back and as a kick returner.
“Right now, Jaylon (Smith) has been so strong in the playoffs that he is probably getting a few less carries,” Luers interim coach Steve Keefer said of Jemison’s offensive play. “When Jaylon takes a break, TyVel goes in at tailback, and we got two other kids behind him. There’s only one ball to go around. (Jemison) could start on any other team in the state at tailback, too.”
Both Jemison and Smith, a Notre Dame recruit, will play defense in college with Smith an outside linebacker.
“He could do either,” Keefer said of Jemison playing cornerback or safety in college. “He has the skill set to play corner at the college or even the pro level. I could see him fitting into that. He could play safety, too. He could do anything he wants to do.
“He’s very quick, very strong and has great speed. He has a good head for the game. He’s a big hitter. He is the one who made a big hit in the Eastside game that jarred the ball loose. He comes up with big hits every game.”