COLLEGE PARK, MD -- You almost had to dust Terps senior slot receiver Taivon Jacobs off as he emerged from the weeds of basically a career-postponed due to knee injuries scattered across his once-promising Terrapin football career.
"Yeah, been a while," Jacobs dead-panned as he met with a throng of media one afternoon this month at spring camp, a group he hadn't commanded the attention of in years.
And just a few years ago Taivon Jacobs was a wisp of a football/track speedster, early committed to Ohio State out of Suitland High School, only to see that ship pulled late in the process, but Maryland there ready to catch his fall. At the time he also welcomed a baby daughter into his life, plus he had his older brother, Levern, already at College Park, so it all made sense to make the seamless switch on National Signing Day in 2013.
Jacobs has now had three major knee surgeries, going back to senior year of high school, while his most recent was early last fall, which forced him out of yet another season at College Park. He has endured two on the right knee, one on the left, and to date has but 21 catches for 264 yards and two scores career at College Park. His first happened in the prep senior all-star game, The Crab Bowl, months before he was to arrive to College Park as a rookie. He then redshirted at College Park in 2013, blew out his knee in the 2014 opener against James Madison, and then put up all his numbers as a sophomore, all before wrecking the knee again on the eve of last season.
"It's is going great now," the 5-9, 170-pound Jacobs said of the left knee. "I've been doing a lot of rehab, maintaining, and I haven't been doing as much as I used to do. Because now I am getting older and I have to know my body and do certain stuff a little differently than I did before. But ultimately it is feeling fine."
Jacobs said it's been tough, the road back, because each time he's had to change his mental approach "and have an extra edge," and use it "as a blessing" and a reminder to work even harder to be ready to produce once he gets back on the field, finally.
"You never really can predict those kinds of injuries. Only go out there and play the game that you love and hope that nothing happens. And I am not going to think about it," he said.
Jacobs said he has cut back on heavy workouts, and is more focused of late on his ball skills, eye coordination, feet and technique, all to "create more separation," he said. Jacobs is Maryland's starting slot receiver, and he is flanked by wide-outs D.J. Moore and Jacquille Veii in the first group this spring.
He said spring camp went well for the unit, especially it's enhanced speed with this trio together finally. And he is imparting his knowledge on the youngsters, lessons he said he got from Stefon Diggs, Deon Long and older bro Levern, at College Park.
"I learned a lot from those guys over the years."
Jacobs said he also closely followed his brother's long road back as well, which included a year's suspension, while Levern could be a late round pick in this month's NFL Draft coming up.
"It helped me as I was part of his journey. I saw a lot of the things he had to overcome, too. Nothing comes easy, you have to work hard for everything, and that's kind of the mentality that I have right now."
Jacobs said he and senior receiver Veii are "like best friends," and he and the other receivers welcomed him back from Towson after he first started as a running back at College Park under Randy Edsall. He even kept up while Veii was up the road north at Towson leading the Tigers two seasons ago with 40 receptions.
"As you can see we gained a valuable member, as you can see he is running with the ones, he is doing exceptionally. So we just hope to keep building on it," Jacobs said of Veii.
The Terps are also giving him (and his great straight-line speed) a look in the return game this spring, which could be a dangerous weapon in the fall if he can take the pounding,
And as far as that 4.35 40 speed Jacobs used to rock back in the day before the injuries, the Suitland burner said with a chuckle:
"I wont say I lost anything. I still got speed. And I am not very big headed, but I got confidence in myself. And you will see [my speed] first game."