Jake wants to show his versatility

2005 will be Running Back Brandon Jacobs' final collegiate campaign. He wants to go out with a bang and believes he can help the Ole Miss Rebels at several positions and in a very important role.

The sweat rolled off senior RB Brandon Jacob's body like he's been caught in a thunderstorm.

Like all the Rebel football players, he's pulling out all the stops to get in top condition before August practices begin and he embarks on his final collegiate season.

Curiously, Brandon is smiling.

Why? Because as the old classic song suggests, you don't know how much you miss something until it's gone.

Jake, you see, had a sports hernia during the latter stages of the 2004 season and was not able to do any physical activity - that relates to football - for nearly five months after successful surgery to repair the injury.

No exercises, no running and certainly no spring training.

"I learned a lesson," said Brandon. "You can't take things for granted. Some of my teammates teased with me about missing spring and being lucky to miss all the hard work. I played along, but you don't realize how much you miss football and working out and playing a game until it's taken away from you.

"Being injured in spring training made me hungry again. Everyone was out on the field proving themselves to a new coaching staff and I was on the sidelines. It taught me that you have to take advantage of every opportunity in life. Maybe that is what I needed to be more dedicated. I've always worked hard, but when I got the clearance from the doctors and trainers this time, I've worked even harder. I have a lot to prove to different coaches in August and I plan on being prepared."

The coaches feel Jacobs can help the offense in several positions. He could play tailback now that rising senior Vashon Pearson is no longer on the team after an academic dismissal. He could play fullback since the Rebs appear to be going with redshirt freshman Jason Cook and are looking for additional help at that position. Or he could play the F-Back slot that WR/TB Larry Kendrick conquered in spring drills.

"I want to show the coaches in August that I can handle anything out of the backfield. I think we need help in all three areas," said the 6-1, 236-pounder. "I'm a veteran. I have SEC experience and I catch on quickly to new plays and assignments. I know I can help this team. I'll let the coaches decide where, but I know I can make an impact.

"I can see myself playing a combination of all three positions or I can see myself playing more fullback to help Jason out there. I can see myself playing F-Back because I know I have good hands and can catch the ball out of the backfield. Again, it doesn't matter to me as long as I am on the field somewhere."

Meanwhile, Brandon has dedicated himself to being in the best shape he can be in when the season starts.

"I'm in real good shape right now, but I want to do more because being in good shape and being in game shape are two different things. I have room for improvement to be in game shape," he declared. "I think I bring a lot to the table. I can run the ball, I can block and I can catch, but no football player can do any of those effectively if he isn't in shape. I will be in shape and when I get the opportunity to show the coaches what I'm made of, I will take advantage of those chances."

Brandon Jacobs could be the "wild card" needed on the Rebel offense. He likes that possible role.

"This season will be a lot of fun. I feel real good about our team and I feel real good about my chances to contribute in some capacity. I'm anxious to find out what capacity that will be," Jake ended.

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