Versatile Jerquin Vines starts to emerge

Jerquin Vines (LaFayette, Ala./LaFayette) knew at a very young age that he wanted to play football. He fell in love with the sport while watching his older brother play football video games. Vines said that even though his mother wouldn’t allow him to take part in youth football, by the time he was in fifth grade he had made up his mind.

“I had it planned out,” he said. “I wanted to be in the NFL one day. I was always running around in the back yard with a football in my hand.”

Vines took the first step toward his goal in seventh grade, when he was allowed to take up the sport. He plays basketball as well, but there is no doubt about where his passion lies.

“I play basketball just to have fun,” he said. “Football really hits my heart.”

Since beginning his career, Vines has made up for lost time. The 5-foot-10, 180-pound athlete has played virtually every position on the field. As a freshman still learning the game, he said he did whatever it took to get on the field.

“I might have been the smallest fullback in the world,” he said. “I was about 150 pounds.”

From that point, as Vines grew, so did his responsibilities. He shuffled back to tailback as a sophomore -- where he said his goal was to be the next Marshall Faulk with his running and receiving skills -- and last year moved into the slot and worked at quarterback on occasion. Defensively, Vines plays cornerback, safety and outside linebacker in a Cover 3 look. As if that wasn’t enough, he also returns kicks, covers kicks and has served as a kicker and punter.

Asked if he ever comes off the field, Vines said, “Not unless it’s a blowout.”

This summer, Vines turned his attention to the recruiting world, as programs have been slow to reach out to Vines, who caught 46 passes for 769 yards and 11 touchdowns as a junior. He took to promoting himself, as he scanned the internet for as many phone numbers and e-mail addresses of college coaches he could find. Vines also took part in several college camps, including two visits apiece to Auburn and UAB. At the Tigers camp, Vines said he ran a 4.5 40-yard dash and jumped 34 inches in the vertical testing.

“Coach Trooper Taylor said he is going to try his best to get a look at me,” Vines said. “They’re recruiting my quarterback, and he said I’m in line with a bunch of other kids on their board.”

Vines said UAB coaches told him they would be following him throughout the year as well, which is a thought shared by virtually all of the schools Vines has contacted recently. Memphis and Vanderbilt visited the school in the spring to evaluate Vines, but he was running track at the time. He has spoken to California, Hawaii, Houston, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oregon State, Southern Mississippi and Tennessee, in addition to others. He said the Beavers have shown increased interest, but without an appearance at a camp this summer, it was impossible to get an in-person evaluation.

“Most of the coaches told me that after they saw my film, I’m on their prospect board,” Vines said. “If I could have made it to camp, I would have been evaluated more and it would have helped me get closer to an offer. But most of the schools have requested early game film from this year.”

Vines said he plans to send film of his first few games to coaches in the hopes that a scholarship offer is extended sometime this fall. He said Oregon State has increased its attention, and although that would be a significant distance to cover, he said he is willing to look anywhere for an opportunity to play at the next level. While he sees his offensive skill set fitting best into a spread offense, he believes his ability to play on both sides of the ball could earn him a look from a variety of programs.