To those who followed Tanner Jacobson's stellar prep career at perennial power Southlake Carroll it came as no surprise to see him log his first collegiate start just four games into his freshman season.
Jacobson (5-10, 180), a walk-on freshman, tallied six tackles at strong safety in place of injured J.J. Gaines for a Texas Tech defense which held Texas State to 240 total yards and 11 first downs en route to a 33-7 victory Saturday at Jones AT&T Stadium.
"First of all I'm not surprised at all," Southlake Carroll coach Hal Wasson said. "Tanner started for us for three years and I've said for two years he's the best safety around and a lot of coaches in the area said the same thing. In my 33 years, he's easily the most instinctive and smartest player I've ever been around."
In his time at Carroll, Jacobson tallied 353 tackles, six interceptions, six forced fumbles and six recovered fumbles and was one of the top kick/punt returners in North Texas.
His junior year he was a major cog in Carroll's 16-0 run to the 2011 Class 5A Division I state championship. His senior season, he racked up a plethora of awards such as District 4-5A Defensive Player of the Year, Texas Sports Writers Association All-State third-team honors, Fort Worth Star-Telegram Super Team first-team honors and Whataburger first-team All-North Texas.
What he didn't get was a Division I scholarship offer. But then one day Kliff Kingsbury and Co. walked into Wasson's office in Southlake.
"I've known Kliff, Sonny Cumbie and those guys for years," Wasson said. "They came through here, we're sitting in the office and I said, 'no one's offered this guy and I just don't get it, you can ask any coach in the area and he's one of the best players around.' Kliff watched a little bit of tape and said, 'I want him.'"
Texas Tech was the only school to offer Jacobson a preferred walk-on spot and it appears the Red Raider coaching staff knew the type of player they had from the get-go.
"That kid's going to be a stud. That kid will start on defense for us," co-defensive coordinator Mike Smith told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal back in July. "He reminds me of Jimmy Leonhard, a safety we had in New York. He's undersized, but the kid is extremely athletic and extremely smart. When I watched him play, he was the spitting image of Jimmy Leonhard for me."
Despite the lack of respect coming out of high school, Jacobson persevered and has realized what Wasson called his "dream of playing D-I ball."
"I'm so proud of him, he's going to be a great role model and ambassador for Texas Tech," Wasson said. "And I tell you what, it speaks volumes for Kliff Kingsbury and his staff; they know a football player when they see one and I think the proof's in the pudding, they're winning football games."
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