The big news coming out of the Texas Tech football camp is the departure of freshman quarterback Baker Mayfield. But far more significant for the Red Raiders is Tanner Jacobson's decision to go on a mission for the Mormon church.
The loss of Jacobson leaves Tech almost bereft of experienced safeties going into 2014. Oft-injured J.J. Gaines, whom Jacobson replaced in the starting lineup, will be the most experienced safety in spring camp next season. Aside from Gaines, Keenon Ward has seen significant action as a freshman, junior Austin Stewart has shifted back and forth between safety and linebacker according to the needs of the day, and that's just about it. It will be a thin group to say the least.
Regarding Jacobson himself, he was a promising player. Like Mayfield, Jacobson was a walk-on freshman who appeared out of the blue and made an immediate name for himself at the collegiate level.
Jacobson, at 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds was terribly undersized to play safety in the Big 12. Ideally, he would have redshirted and packed on at least 10 pounds of extra muscle. Alas, depth problems at safety were so severe that Jacobson was pressed into duty at a less than ideal point in his young career.
Nevertheless, Jacobson acquitted himself quite well. As would be expected of any true freshman, Jacobson had his ups and his downs. When he was at his best, Jacobson played with bulldog tenacity and looked like a smaller version of Cody Davis or Kevin Curtis. When he wasn't, he missed tackles, blew coverages, was out of position and took poor pursuit angles.
At any rate, Jacobson finished the season 10th on the team in tackles with 40, forced a pair of fumbles, had a tackle for loss, a pass defended, a pass breakup and a fumble recovery. Not too shabby for a true freshman walk-on thrown into the maelstrom that is Big 12 pass defense.
If Jacobson chooses to continue his college football career after his missionary work, he will develop into an excellent player. Regardless of his inconsistent play as a Texas Tech freshman, it is a real accomplishment to not only see the field but to start at the Big 12 level as a freshman. Doing so validates his talent. With more experience and muscle, Jacobson will be a huge boon for some football program. This observer hopes that program is Texas Tech.
Jacobson Will Be Missed
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