Football Position Change Might Not Take

Auburn football junior Brandon Jacobs discusses his move from offense to defense.

Auburn, Ala.--If you ask Brandon Jacobs what position he expects that he will be playing next season, the Auburn junior says that he will likely be a tailback despite his his current bowl practice experiment at playing linebacker.

If you ask the six-foot-four, 260-pound tailback a series of questions about what his position on the field and his status with the AU football team currently is, you could get some contradictory answers. That might be because the big junior is still trying to figure out what he wants to do.

On Thursday, Jacobs practiced for the first time on defense and didn't sound particularly enthusiastic about the move to linebacker. Buried at third or fourth team on the tailback depth chart well behind juniors Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown, Jacobs says he decided to try the experiment during bowl practice to see if linebacker is a way to get onto the field more during the 2004 season.

"I really didn't get too much done," he said of his first practice at linebacker. "It is a long process. I have a very short time to learn it. Nothing is for sure about me staying there or not. It is hard. I had a hard day today and I really didn't do too much--just stand up listening to Karlos (Dansby) and looking at Karlos and watching all what he does real hard."

Instead of just changing positions, Jacobs says he strongly considered changing colleges. He was recently in Louisiana checking out Division I-AA program McNeese State as they were in the NCAA playoffs. He could go to that or any Division I-AA college and not have to sit out a year as a transfer.

Jacobs admits that he has strongly considered transferring to another college where he would have a better chance of being the starting tailback, but says he decided against that move. In fact, he says that there was a 98 percent chance that he was going to do that.

"I came real close," he says about leaving. "You know, obviously those two percent meant something. Nine times out of 10 the two percent or one percent don't mean anything, but it meant something to me in this case. I will just stick it out and have another year left to do it. Hopefully, I will get a (NFL) shot somewhere at after next year is over."

Jacobs says what happens in the bowl practice will determine whether he stays at linebacker or goes elsewhere. Head coach Tommy Tuberville says that pro scouts have suggested that Jacobs would have a better shot at making the NFL as a defensive end or tight end. Jacobs says he feels like he could play either one of those positions, but says there would be a learning curve to master. However, there is definitely a bigger learning curve to deal with at linebacker, one of the toughest positions on the field to handle.

Brandon Jacobs is shown at Thursday's practice.

Jacobs says the bowl practices will influence what he decides to do with his experiment. "Do I have the mentality to be there doing that?" he says of playing linebacker. "I will find out after practice is over."

After one practice at linebacker, Jacobs has decided that it is a tougher position for him to play than tailback. "It is way much harder to learn linebacker than runningback," he says. He says not knowing the mental part of the position was "frustrating" at Thursday's practice. "Just knowing different things you have got to do--you have got to watch more than one person on each play. It is a lot."

When he asked to make the move to defense, Jacobs said he thought that would be a more certain path to the NFL. After playing the position his first day and talking to former and current NFL players his attitude has changed on that subject. "I don't think that anymore," he said, noting that he has been advised that running back is his best shot to get to the NFL.

"The average in the NFL, if they have got 40 linebackers 30 of them are 6-4, 260 and run just like me. In the NFL, you aren't going to see too many running backs my size. My chances are really slim to none to get in it (NFL) as a linebacker, but if I learn it and have it as one of my instincts, which I doubt will come that fast for me in six months so, running back is something that I have, something that I have always been doing. I think I will have a better chance of staying there no matter how many snaps I get or no matter who leaves or stays. If I have another year like last year I think that it will be enough for me to at least get a shot (in the NFL)."

Commenting on playing linebacker, he added, "Who knows? I might get to like the linebacker stuff throughout these practices. I might just get to hate it."

There is one consistent theme with Jacobs and football during his short time at Auburn and that is his desire to get to the NFL and play some position there. "What they do with me when I get there, I don't care," he said. "It is just the fact of getting there."

Unlike many of his teammates, who have recently stated their admiration and closeness to the Auburn coaching staff, Jacobs admits he is not close to the staff. "I have never really grown a relationship with any of these coaches," he said. "I just sit and I learn from them and that is it. That is all it is."

Auburn is scheduled to practice through Saturday before breaking for Christmas. They will reconvene on Dec. 26th in Nashville and on the 27th resume preparations for The Music City Bowl vs. Wisconsin.

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