Wowing his new teammates with his combination of size, speed and footwork, it didn't take long for Jacobs to be the talk of the football program as the Tigers left for Orlando to play Penn State in the Capital One Bowl.
Two months later Jacobs is ready to show his wares as the Tigers prepare for spring practice to open March 4. Now up to 260 pounds on his 6-4 frame, Jacobs says that he's anxious to get back to work with his teammates. Currently fourth on the depth chart behind Carnell Williams, Ronnie Brown and Tre Smith, a goal for the big back is to make sure that is not how it stands when the Tigers kick off the 2003 season against USC.
Jacobs gets a handoff in a December bowl practice.
"That is something that I have really looked forward to," Jacobs says of spring practice. "I can't wait until it gets here so I can learn some new things. I want to play with some faster people just to see how much better I can get by working hard.
"One of my goals is to get in there and get some carries and come up the depth chart. I don't know where I am on the depth chart right now, but I know I'm not where I want to be. I just want to get in and make myself better and learn, learn, learn."
One of the most dominating high school players in the country two years ago coming out of Assumption High in Napoleonville, La., Jacobs rushed for more than 3,000 yards and was one of the top running back talents anywhere. Because his academics weren't up to par, he was left behind in many of the recruiting wars and surprisingly by many schools looking for a quick fix. That wasn't the case with Auburn as they signed Jacobs and found the right fit for him at Coffeyville (Kan.) Junior College. He buckled down academically and became an honor student in junior college and graduated in time to be an early signee with the Tigers in December.
Two years after high school, Jacobs says things have been difficult, but rewarding since he got to Auburn.
"Things since then have been real complicated, but right now I'm just getting all the run plays down," Jacobs notes. "I have them down and now I'm just getting the pass protections down. I'm just trying to learn more about our offense and what we do.
"When I came in at first I was kind of overwhelmed," adds Jacobs. "I wasn't used to the big campus and all of the different kids in my class. That was kind of a hard transition to make, but everything is good now. I'm just taking it day by day."
At 260 pounds, Jacobs weighs five pounds more than 1986 starting left tackle Jim Thompson did when that season began.
Perhaps the toughest transition Jacobs has been forced to make is in the conditioning and lifting part of his game. A premier athlete, he hasn't always been pushed to better himself day in and day out, but that's just what Coach Kevin Yoxall and Auburn's strength and conditioning coaches have done to the junior-to-be. With a bench press of 385 pounds last fall before he left Coffeyville, Jacobs has the strength necessary to succeed but he's found out that conditioning is where games are won and lost in the SEC.
"I was real surprised at the running workouts," he notes. "We run an awful lot. There is a thing we have now called the 'County Fair.' It's at 6 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It's a killer. It will bring the man out of you. It will bring the man out of you real fast."
Talk and expectations for next season's team are already at a fever pitch after closing out the 2002 season with wins over Alabama and then Penn State in the Capital One Bowl on the way to a 9-4 season. Watching and keeping up with the team last season, Jacobs says that the 2003 team is already preparing for the first game and a run at championships.
"We're all looking forward to next season," Jacobs says. "We have a lot of pressure on us right now. As a team our first goal is to go out and beat USC. We have to get them over with and done first. The pressure is good, but at the same time pressure will always be pressure. It's good to have that type of pressure."
While there are few questions about next season's team other than at cornerback and tight end, the biggest question of the spring and leading up to next season might be ‘Who is going to be the starting tailback?' With a plethora of bodies available to carry the ball and Williams, Brown and Smith all established in the program, Jacobs knows it's going to be tough to get the ball as many times as he's been accustomed to in junior college. What he does know is that having competition every day is going to make all four backs better and make this Auburn team stronger in 2003.
"I think it makes us about 80 percent better," Jacobs says. "You have somebody every day that is on your behind and on your tail to make you work harder and do things because you'll be scared of that next man, of his talents and what he can do. So you will strive and fight harder and push yourself to be better. That next man is going to see you doing the same thing so he's going to do the same thing just to stay with you. That's going to make all of us really good. It should make all four of us human robots."
Editor's Note: This is part 10 in a series of articles previewing Auburn's spring football practice. Part 11 will be posted on Tuesday. All week long it is two-a-days for Tiger Football Tidbits only on the Tiger Ticket Forum.