New "Air Raid" pilot in the wings
Shawnee (OK) QB John
Jacobs fits the dual-threat mold sought by Lincoln Riley for his Mike
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Arguably, quarterback is the most
important position on any college football team. There can be little
debate that it's been true at East Carolina since Ruffin McNeill arrived
as head coach and Lincoln Riley as offensive coordinator.
The "Air Raid'' offense Riley learned
under Mike Leach at Texas Tech has been the signature ingredient in the
Pirates' success and a drawing card for quarterback prospects,
especially those with dual-threat capabilities. The vital nature of the
position has made signing at least one quarterback in every recruiting
class standard procedure for ECU.
The Pirates were in danger of falling
short of fulfilling that goal last February after two high school
quarterbacks tendered verbal commitments to McNeill and Riley, then
backed out to sign with other schools. ECU, however, was able to salvage
the situation by picking up Mesa Community College quarterback Blake
Kemp after national signing day.
Perhaps in an effort to avoid similar
problems with the recruiting Class of 2015, the Pirates quickly targeted
John Jacobs from Shawnee High in Oklahoma this spring.
"They (ECU coaches) had seen film on
him, and liked him,'' Shawnee coach Billy Brown said. "But the way it's
set up now, they want to see a guy throw in person, or in their camp
before they extend an offer to them.
"He (Riley) came and watched John
throw recently, and offered him on the spot.''
Jacobs accepted the offer late last
week to become the third member of ECU's 2015 class. The 6-foot-1,
210-pound left-hander picked the Pirates over scholarship offers from
Alabama-Birmingham and Troy, but was receiving interest from dozens of
other schools like Arizona, Indiana, Missouri, Minnesota and Oklahoma
Brown, who has racked up more than
150 career victories in 17 seasons, turned to Jacobs as a sophomore in
2012 to help rejuvenate a Shawnee team that had struggled to finishes of
3-7 and 1-9 the previous two years. Jacobs, the son of a well-known
evangelist of the same name, had moved to Shawnee from Texas near the
end of his freshman year and arrived with a video highlight film.
"We watched it and we knew he'd be
good enough to play for us,'' Brown said. "We liked that he could run
and pass. We could tell he was a player.''
Jacobs helped Shawnee produce a 5-6
record while accumulating 2,500 yards of total offense in an impressive
sophomore campaign. But Jacobs really blossomed last season when,
despite dealing with a sports hernia much of the year, he passed for
3,550 yards and 28 touchdowns, while rushing for 1,250 yards and 14
Behind Jacobs' performance, the
Wolves advanced to the second round of the state 5-A playoffs and
finished with a 9-3 record. Even in the defeat that ended Shawnee's
season, Jacobs impressed. In a 23-21 loss to Guthrie, he accounted for
363 of the Wolves' 365 yards of offense.
"He's a legit dual-threat
quarterback,'' Brown said. "He's a threat either way. Teams have to
prepare for him to pass and run the ball.''
Brown pointed out a play Jacobs made
during the second game of the 2013 season as an example of his ability
to make good plays out of bad ones.
"We missed a block — one guy got
through clean on a busted assignment,'' Brown said. "But John made him
miss and went 70 yards for a touchdown. The guy was literally unblocked
and John beat him with his feet, then outran everybody else on a play
that should have been a 12-yard loss.''
Brown gives a lot of credit for
Jacobs' development to Joe Dickinson, an Oklahoma native, former college
coach and the lead quarterback instructor at DeBartolo Sports
University. DeBartolo is a popular organization that conducts
quarterback camps and provides private training all over the country.
Dickinson, who previously worked with current ECU backup quarterback
Cody Keith, has worked with Jacobs for several years.
"It helps us like crazy,'' Brown
said. "Our kids can't train year round here on the field with our
coaches, so Joe does that with him. Joe knows what to do and how to do
it as it applies to John. It's a blessing to have him around here.''
Brown wasn't surprised Jacobs made
his college choice so soon before his senior season. Because the Wolves
have a shot at winning the state title this season, Jacobs wanted to get
his recruitment out of the way.
"We'll probably be (ranked) preseason
one or two in the state,'' Brown said. "We have a lot of kids back from
last year. He just wanted to get it done. He was comfortable with the
decision, so now he can focus on winning a state championship.
"Sometimes when they make a decision
this early it opens doors for other schools, or someone who appreciates
him, maybe, as much as East Carolina does. He may get some more offers.
But I think he'll be pretty loyal to East Carolina. He wanted to make
this decision, get it done and focus on high school football.''
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05/20/2014 02:53 AM