By Fred L. Jones, Jr.
Joshua Jacobs from Raymond S. Tulsa McLain is playing for the College Football National Championship for the #1 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide January 9th and his is story is a truly phenomenal.
Jacobs is just a true freshman getting ample playing time for the Crimson Tide, he’s part of that even though no one was calling and asking about the star player from McLain, less than a year ago.
Jacobs Father Marty Jacobs said “Ever since signing day this has been a great experience, I am humble to share with my son. If you would have told me at the beginning of the season. That I would see Josh as a freshman on the field. I wouldn’t believe you. This whole journey proves that God truly moved mountains for his gifts. I’m proud, not just being successful on field, but in the class room. His final grades for Semester where good. He has a 3.28 GPA. Thus, far totaling 24 hours passed (include his summer) Everyone that has meet Josh has the same testimony of his character while away from home. I’ve had many parents of players at post game dinner. Telling us how Josh represents my family and how they are blessed to adopt him while he is there in Tuscaloosa. Josh will always have a home there. God set this young man up. He has really blessed him. Josh has kept God first. Chose to do the right things that open those doors for blessing. This gives an example for his younger brothers has bought in to the same path that at their current level. God has elevated them. I hope that young men use this template also. Our family is truly blessed right now”.
Despite Jacobs leading the state in rushing, his recruitment process was about as atypical as it gets. During the time Alabama was winning another national championship in January, Jacobs had no Division I scholarship offers.
Both he and his head coach couldn’t understand the lack of attention. Now both they and Alabama are extremely grateful for how things worked out.
Senior safety Eddie Jackson on was impressed with Jacobs from day one of training camp: “We just said, ‘Man, he’s going to be something special.’ He’s a workhorse.”
There is no simple answer to why Jacobs was overlooked for so long, but one appears to be that he played in just six games as a junior, running for 948 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Another was his position as a senior, when the McLain Titans needed him to lead the offense.”He played a lot of, I guess people would be able to relate to Wildcat quarterback, where he did a lot of quarterback runs,” Alabama head coach Nick Saban said.
Consequently, Jacobs’ statistics were so good they almost looked fake. He averaged 15.1 yards per carry and 245.8 yards per game, with 2,704 rushing yards on 179 carries and 31 rushing touchdowns. Gentry-USA TODAY Sports
But the coach thought that Jacobs did start leaning one way about his potential future.
TMC Football Coach Jarvis Payne said. “I think he wanted to see something different, because our neighborhood isn’t the best neighborhood,” He wanted to get away and see another part of the world, get established and then come back and help the community.”
What changed everything was the suggestion by a recruiting expert that Jacobs’ highlights be posted on social media. “It just blew up and spread like wildfire,” the coach said. “New Mexico State came in first, that was January sometime. And then Wyoming came in. He really liked the staff at Wyoming, they just couldn’t match when all the big guys came a week or so before signing day.”
Even though Saban essentially had another recruiting title already wrapped up, he wanted to bring in an additional running back along with heralded prospect B.J. Emmons to the class of 2016. With Derrick Henry and Kenyan Drake both leaving for the NFL, there was no one on the roster with significant experience.
When he finally saw film of Jacobs, his quickness, speed and hands were all apparent. Considering how late it was in the recruiting process, however, the overriding thought was that he was too good to be true.
So Saban dispatched Crimson Tide running backs coach Burton Burns to Tulsa to find out. Even after putting eyes on Jacobs during a basketball practice, Saban still told him over the phone, “Well, there’s got to be something wrong with the guy.”
Alabama kept digging. His grades were never an issue. Jacobs passed the ACT the first time he took the test. He even donated time on Saturdays to help his old youth team.
“It’s really refreshing. He has his head on straight,” Payne said. “He’s sort of an old-school kid, he’s really not into video games and stuff, he gets outside. He likes playing basketball and hanging out with his friends, and he always includes them in everything.Press
Jacobs picked Alabama over Missouri and Oklahoma. Later that day, Sooners coach Bob Stoops was asked about losing Jacobs and called his recruitment “probably unprecedented.” He added that once Oklahoma offered, he knew the floodgates could open, his running backs were “Solid at six,” and “We also thought Josh could be a slot receiver.”
“I don’t think you can just measure how hungry he is to succeed,” Payne said. “That’s one of the things that I think makes it so great.”
Tune in Monday, January 9 at 7 pm on ESPN for the College Football National Championship game.