In Maryland’s recruitment of Suitland star Taivon Jacobs, two questions immediately come to mind: will the presence of Jacobs’ older brother help the Terps in their pursuit of perhaps the state’s fastest player? And will the tenuous status of Maryland’s men’s track program hurt their chances?
From the sounds of Jacobs’ answers, there’s good news and bad news.
Jacobs said that while he does like the idea of playing with brother Levern Jacobs, an incoming freshman this year, it won’t sway him to College Park.
“No, not really. I’ve played with him before and I enjoyed myself, but it’s not really a big factor. A lot of people ask me that,” he said. “He told me a little bit about what it’s like. He’s adjusting to it well. He just said you’ve got to be really committed and ready to work.”
Conversely, he said that Maryland’s likely lack of a men’s track program – the program will become defunct unless the athletic department raises enough money to revive it – won’t be a deal-breaker.
“I do want to run track. If the school I’m going to doesn’t have a men’s track program but it has a women’s program, I’ll just talk to the coaches and see if I can run independently,” he said. “If I can do that, it doesn’t really matter too much.”
Jacobs, a 5-foot-10, 165-pound speedster, is one of the area’s most sought-after prospects, having piled up 16 offers from schools like Ohio State, Miami, Michigan State, Florida State and West Virginia, among others. But he hasn’t forgotten who offered first.
“I’m very interested [in Maryland]. That was the first school to show interest and show me love for my capabilities, so I have high interest,” he said. “Me and coach [Randy] Edsalland me and [wide receivers] coach [Lee] Hull, we have a really good relationship. Even if we haven’t talked for a while, I can go and we can talk for an hour about anything.”
Jacobs, who plans to commit sometime this fall, has no favorites yet but will take June visits to Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State as part of a tour led by former NFL cornerback Troy Vincent. While Pitt, Penn State and Wake Forest are recruiting him as a cornerback, everyone else sees him as a receiver, including Maryland.
“They told me they see me as a slot, maybe playing some wide receiver, and that I could be a great kick returner and punt returner and special teams guy,” said Jacobs, whose 34.28-second time in the 300 meters back in January was, at the time, the second-fastest time in the nation for this past indoor season.
As a junior, Jacobs recorded 35 catches for 921 yards and 13 touchdown, along with a few kick returns for touchdowns. He’s been clocked in the 4.3-second range in the 40-yard dash.
“I like the offensive side of the ball. I like making plays and stepping up in big situations,” he said.
Having landed Good Counsel star Stefon Diggs in the 2012 class, the Terps could present opposing secondaries some challenges if Jacobs to jump on board. He said he’s not close to making a decision, but he likes more than just the location and the coaching staff at Maryland.
“The academics are great, too,” he said. “They take it seriously and they care about you. They don’t let you slack off.”