COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Both pre and post-interviewing on Monday in the Gossett Football Team House weight room, Terps junior receiver Levern Jacobs made a point to heartily shake each gathered media member’s hand, some half-dozen reporters in a semi-circle around him, as it was great to be back for the beaming Jacobs, suspended last year for an off-the-field incident, and great for Terrapin nation to welcome him back as well.
Jacobs, the shifty Terps team leader in receptions two seasons ago after stars Stefon Diggs and Deon Long went down to leg injuries midway through 2013, is back and looks better than ever halfway through spring camp this month.
The 5-11, 184-pound wide-out, who has the best all-around package of speed, shiftiness, toughness and hands (not to mention route-running) on this year’s squad, has come out of a year’s hibernation and is soaking up every minute of it. Not only for himself, but further mentoring, and seeing blossom, his kid brother Taivon, who has basically missed the last two seasons himself. If healthy, the two could very well lead the Terps receiver corps this fall as UMD enters Year Two of the Big Ten.
“The one thing about Levern, I don’t think he was really rusty because I have a lot of admiration for him because of the fact that even though he couldn’t play last fall, he really busted his tail on the scout team,” Randy Edsall said. “So he ended up making himself better last year….because of the approach that he took to say, ‘okay, I can’t play but I can get better and help my teammates be better in terms of how hard I go in terms of everything else.’ So that was the thing. And you can see the difference in him.”
Jacobs is also a “tough guy” for a smallish receiver, and that’s something that was lacking at times last season among the corps. Also, this spring a handful of UMD receivers are watching from the sidelines, notably Amba Etta Tawo, Taivon Jacobs and this week Juwann Winfree, with various injuries. Levern Jacobs has become the elder statesman now, and the “go-to” guy, with senior to be Marcus Leak still a bit inconsistent and several moving on after last season including Diggs, Long, Daniel Adams, etc.
“I think Levern is a very talented receiver. I think there are things that he can do, and he has proven in games he’s got very good speed, he can catch the ball, he’s got toughness. He’s got those things that you look for,” Edsall said.
Jacobs wasted no time last fall, earning multiple Scout Team Player of the Week honors while toiling down on the opponents-look team. He could have easily sulked after the tough lot he got, suspended for the entire season by the University, but has come back renewed, and with the incident in the rearview mirror.
“It’s a great feeling to be back out there with my brothers,” Levern Jacobs said. “I mean, I never really was gone, but it really feels good to be out there when I know it counts and getting ready for the season and stuff like that.”
He said his brother, parents and coaches “stayed on my butt” to keep working hard and helping the team during his suspension.
“I was on scout team, playing everyone’s most important receiver, so that was just my main role, helping everyone out,” Levern Jacobs said.
He said standing around on Saturday afternoons was trying, but he knew helping the game-prep on scout team all week was key.
“That’s what kept me motivated,” the rising senior Levern Jacobs said.
As for his game this spring, Jacobs has worked on getting in and out of his routes better, while also playing both inside and out and “being more coachable…so they can play me pretty much anywhere,” Levern Jacobs said.
Jacobs thinks the Terps have good numbers, and the addition of players like Will Ulmer, and a strong spring so far for sophomore DeAndre Lane, has been a positive.
Meanwhile, younger bro Taivon is the shiftiest receiver among all Terps, but blew out his knee early last season just as he was debuting after a redshirt year. He is still rehabbing this month, but big bro looks forward to his coming out in the fall. Tavion is very dangerous after-the-catch, and just needs to stay healthy after also injuring the knee in high school at Suitland as well. He is the fastest straight-line speed Terp as well, after a decorated prep track career as well.
“I know my brother has been through a lot, and we talk all the time about it, and I know he is going to come back strong. I think he is going to be fine,” Levern Jacobs said, adding that Taivon has emerged “as one of the main leaders’ now among the corps given his extra work on and off the field and in film study.
“I think he is going to do something special this year,” Levern said.
And on another young, key guy this spring -- redshirt freshman quarterback Shane Cockerille -- who is gaining significant reps, Levern Jacobs said:
“He has developed a lot actually. He’s showing a lot of improvement, his accuracy, just knowing the plays, dissecting the defense. And I think he is going to be competitive this season as well.”
Levern Jacobs Beaming About Being Back
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