Jul. 4—With the most important decision of Jeremiah Telander's life in the books, he can focus on what he does best: play football.
On June 27, the Gainesville High senior made his decision for the next four years official by giving his verbal commitment to play at the University of Tennessee. He chose the Volunteers over Louisville, North Carolina and Florida, which comprised the top four — all schools where he took campus visits.
In all, Telander compiled 28 offers from Division-I programs and is ranked the 29th-best inside linebacker nationally in the Class of 2023, according to Rivals.com.
"It feels great to be committed to Tennessee," Telander said. "It's been a long recruiting process."
Before playing his first-ever snap for the Red Elephants, the 220-pound middle linebacker was able to nail down his decision after making '6 or 7' trips to visit the Tennessee campus. The Volunteers were the first Power 5 program to offer the former North Hall standout a scholarship, after a stellar showing at a camp following his sophomore season.
As a junior, Telander's stock skyrocketed as a menacing defender who recorded 137 tackles (33 for a loss) at North Hall, before opting to move to Gainesville High in time for the second half of the 2021-22 school year.
At Tennessee, Telander is eager to join in with a resurgence under second-year coach Josh Heupel, who guided the school to a 7-6 mark and trip to the Music City Bowl in 2021.
Telander was impressed right away with the facilities and culture that the Volunteers are building, after going through a period with limited success.
In addition to watching Tennessee games in person, which served as the icing on the cake.
"From A to Z, it's just a wonderful place," Telander said. "There's no excuse not to be great at Tennessee."
Playing college football at the highest level has always been the dream for Telander, who moved to Georgia from Indiana as a kid.
Since he was young, Jeremiah has been able to rely on the training and advice of his father, Steve, who is a former Division-I assistant football coach.
The list of schools trying to court Telander was long.
He also held offers from Georgia Tech, Indiana, Kansas State, Missouri, Virginia and Duke, among many others.
Telander rose to prominence on the recruiting radar as an aggressive playmaker his first three years of high school at North Hall, earning Region 7-3A Defensive Player of the Year in 2020 and 2021.
At Gainesville, Telander is part of an influx of new talent who will suit up for first-year coach Josh Niblett.
And Gainesville's new linebacker has clear goals for his one season playing for its program: win a state championship.
In 2022, the Red Elephants will be moving down to Class 6A and play in Region 8-6A against Habersham Central, Apalachee, Lanier, Shiloh, North Forsyth and Jackson County.
"I'm ready to go win a ring with my guys here at Gainesville," Telander said.
Telander said he's extremely grateful for all the coaches who poured into his development, especially those at North Hall.
Now, he's excited to be playing for an accomplished cast of coaches for Niblett, who won six state championships at the highest classification in Alabama with Hoover High.
In 2020, Telander had his breakout season with 145 stops and five sacks for the Trojans.