NY Daily News: Giants' Jacobs ready for a breakout year

Discussion in 'NFL Zone' started by Angus, Sep 5, 2007.

  1. Angus

    Angus Active Member

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    Giants' Jacobs ready for breakout year


    Wednesday, September 5th 2007, 9:16 AM

    Brandon Jacobs was lying in a hospital, staring up at the ceiling and not really sure what was going on around him when he found the strength to roll over. His startled doctor stared at him for a moment, then turned to look at his mother.

    "You have a football player here," he told her.

    Brandon was 10 pounds, 15 ounces - and only two hours old.

    "When Brandon was three months old he was wearing size 18-month clothes," his mother Janice Jacobs says. "He went straight from baby formula to table food. He never ate baby food. He couldn't even fit in the incubator at the hospital."

    That legend of Brandon Jacobs was born on July 6, 1982, and right from the start the now 6-4, 264-pound running back was the biggest thing in the tiny town of Napoleonville, La. As Brandon Jacobs tells the story, not long after he rolled over he set his sights on the NFL, vowing to do "whatever it took, by any means necessary."

    The bumpy road took him from Napoleonville (pop. 700) to Coffeyville, Kan. (pop. 10,000), to Auburn (pop. 51,000), to Carbondale, Ill. (pop. 21,000). On Sunday night, when the Giants open their regular season, it will take him to Dallas, where he'll be the first to attempt to fill Tiki Barber's large shoes.

    Replacing Barber, who averaged 2,055 total yards and 1,528 rushing yards over the last five seasons, won't be an easy job. Then again, for Jacobs, nothing's ever been easy.

    "When people see the things I went through to get where I am today, I wanted it bad," Jacobs says. "I just wanted it so bad. I wasn't going to prove myself wrong. I wasn't going to be a failure. I was going to get to where I wanted to be by any means necessary."

    Asked if anyone else in Napoleonville ever thought he would be where he is today, Jacobs said, "Oh my God, there are probably a lot of people that still think I'm going to mess up today and end up back there."

    Back there is a small, poor, southeastern Louisiana town, "just a hop, skip and a jump from New Orleans," Jacobs says. Long before he was a star for Assumption High School - so named, Jacobs says, "because we assumed we were going to kick your (butt) on Friday night" - Jacobs was "just a normal sized kid" who seemed to love two things: Playing football and getting into trouble.

    The football was easy, even when he was an 8-year-old playing Pee Wee ball.

    "First time I touched the rock I went 80 (yards)," Jacobs says. "They just said, 'Brandon, you're going to run left. We'll pitch you the ball and run.' That was my first game. I didn't even go to practice."

    Off the field, though, it was another story. Janice's middle child (son Michael is seven years older and daughter Erica is four years younger) got into fights a little too frequently and had a brush or two with the law. Janice says it was "nothing serious, just boy stuff," but she was worried because "where I lived there were a lot of drugs." She sent him to live with her sister, Diane Cheavious, and her husband Phil, whom Brandon still calls "my father." Jacobs says his real father "wasn't in the picture." Cheavious had two boys Brandon's age, who they thought would be a good influence. They also lived in a slightly better part of town.

    "He just had to get his head straight," Janice says. "My sister didn't play. When she says 'Don't do it,' he didn't do it."

    Jacobs' salvation in a community filled with drugs and violence was always on the football field, but even that wasn't a smooth path. He quit football after his freshman year - he says because he wanted to play basketball, his mom says it was over a disagreement with his coach - and didn't play as a sophomore, either.

    He returned for his junior season and rushed for 1,783 yards and 18 touchdowns. By then, people were coming from miles away to see him. On game days, Napoleonville's population would swell to more than 8,000.

    "We filled the stadium up, now," Jacobs says. "Everyone would be there. The town would be empty because everyone was at the game."

    "It was amazing. Amazing," Janice says. "People came from everywhere - everywhere. Just to see him. Other guys on the other team would call him and thank him for bringing the TV people there to see the game. On Friday nights when his games were over, it was like 2 or 3 in the morning before we could go to bed. People would just come over to the house to shake his hand."

    As a senior, Jacobs rushed for 3,022 yards and 38 touchdowns, and led his team to the state semifinals. Miami, Ohio State and Auburn recruited him, each school dreaming of a monster-sized running back with 4.4 speed wreaking havoc on opposing defenses. High school was a struggle for Jacobs, though, and he didn't qualify academically with the NCAA.

    Auburn offered to set him up at Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College. As a result, Jacobs committed to Auburn because, he says, "I'm a loyal dude."

    The loyalty didn't go both ways, however, and Jacobs hardly played in his one season there, sitting behind Cadillac Williams and Ronnie Brown, the second and fifth picks in the 2005 draft. "The best thing I got out of Auburn was my wife," Jacobs says of his spouse, Kimberly, who he has been married to for two years. After rushing for only 442 yards at Auburn, he transferred to Southern Illinois.

    The Salukis' coach, Jerry Kill, still marvels at Jacobs' one season in Carbondale. "He's a freak of nature," Kill says. "I know all the NFL people came in and said 'Do you really think he's a RB?' I said 'I do.'

    Kill recalls a playoff game in 2004 I-AA playoff game against Eastern Washington, when the Salukis were backed up at their own 1. "We gave him the ball eight or nine times," Kill says. "He was basically carrying two or three players on his back every play. I've never seen anything like that in my life."

    Jacobs finished that game with 166 yards and four touchdowns on 25 carries. In his one season at Southern Illinois, he rushed for 922 yards and 19 touchdowns on only 150 carries. That was enough to catch the eye of the Giants, who drafted him in the fourth round of the 2005 draft, setting off another party in the front of the Jacobs house.

    "When he came home after the draft we couldn't get in the driveway," Janice says. "We couldn't go anywhere. There were signs up along the main highway, streets roped off an everything. A guy with a limo picked him up. We were like, 'What is this?' Just a few of his family members were supposed to go get him. It was awesome."

    The rest is history. He spent two years as an apprentice to Barber, gaining 522 yards on only 134 carries. Then Barber retired, leaving the Giants' backfield in Jacobs' huge hands, and leaving plenty of unanswered questions: Can Jacobs stay healthy? Can he carry a full workload? Can he catch passes out the backfield? Can he perform, like Barber did, in the clutch?

    Jacobs has no doubt about anything. He's been waiting for this opportunity all his life.

    "Some people may look at it as me being pig-headed or cocky, but I just think that's confidence," he says. "I've been through too much that would've brought most people down, but it didn't bring me down."

    As plenty of NFL defenders have already found out, it's not easy to bring a running back as big and strong as Jacobs down.

    "But he's still my little boy," Janice says. "People say, 'He's so big.' I don't care how big he gets, I still call him my baby."

  2. zeroburrito

    zeroburrito Well-Known Member

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    first year starting and ready to breakout?
  3. Doomsday101

    Doomsday101 Well-Known Member

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    If he plans on starting beyond this season he better have a break out season. Giants very well could be in the market for another RB after this season.

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