Rams tackle, Jacobson, has big decision to make this week
HOLLISTER — Wade Jacobson is 6-foot-6 and 310 pounds. He boasts a 3.59 grade point average as a sophomore at Gavilan College, as well as a killer handshake, and is blessed with some of the best footwork his coaches have seen, considering his massive frame.
So what would San Jose State, San Diego State, Washington State, the University of Nevada at Reno and the University of Arizona want to do with him?
“He’s a lot wanted,” said Gavilan football head coach John Lango, who noted that some schools decided to not even make an effort on recruiting Jacobson because “they felt they had no chance.”
The Rams tackle and San Benito High graduate has literally transformed himself into one of the top junior college lineman in just two years, and is one of the more touted recruits to come out of Gavilan in recent memory.
“He’s a good football player, but it’s a whole package deal,” Lango said. “When I recruit kids, I tell them they have to be good in the classroom, good on the field and good in their social life – making the right choices. He has all the intangibles that coaches are looking for.”
Figuring his football career was complete following the fall season of 2007 – he had every intention of attending culinary school, in fact – Jacobson, just 220 pounds back then, was approached by Lango during track season in the spring, and has since developed into something even he didn’t expect.
“And that has been unbelievable,” said Lango, who’s been at the helm for the Rams for the last 10 years. “Coming out of high school, there were certain things he needed to work on.
“He needed to get stronger. He needed to work on pass sets … just on technique stuff. But he just worked hard, extremely hard to get where he’s at.”
With five offers on the table, Jacobson will sign a National Letter of Intent on Wednesday, and end a courtship among four other schools that wouldn’t mind his services – protecting their quarterbacks’ blind spot for the next two years.
But what Jacobson covets is simple.
“What I’m looking for right now is playing time,” said Jacobson, who has two years of athletic eligibility left. “I don’t have [time] to waste.”
Team chemistry is also of importance to the left tackle, not to mention an education; Jacobson is planning on double majoring in criminal justice and sociology, and will even try to earn his masters as the school will pay an extra year for studies.
After all that, though, Lango said it just comes down to fit.
“I’m looking for a family atmosphere,” Jacobson said. “Somewhere you can get along and where you can count on the coaches to always be there for you once football ends.”
Jacobson isn’t necessarily new to the recruiting scene, though. In August, San Jose State and the University of North Carolina came calling, each seeking the services of the offensive lineman a mere two weeks before the first game.
“But I wasn’t ready to drop everything and leave. That’s hard,” Jacobson said. “I would have been a backup until I learned the system.
“It was right at the last minute, and I figured if I waited it out, I’d have more offers. Luckily, I did.”
And he also delivered a strong sophomore season at Gavilan to boot. After being named third team preseason all-America among junior college players, Jacobson racked up 68 pancakes in eight games for the Rams, and led and offensive line that allowed just nine sacks all season.
Jacobson was most recently named all-Coast Conference and all-region, and was ranked No. 14 in the nation among junior college tackles, sixth in the state, according to jcfootball.com.
“He’s an aggressive player and he’s got a little nasty disposition,” Rams offensive line coach Andy Gonzalez said. “But that’s good. It’s hard to teach that when you’re playing O-line. It’s a street fight in the trenches, and it’s hard to teach that.”
Gonzalez said Jacobson is mentally tough on himself, however – a bit of a perfectionist.
“He sets high standards,” Gonzalez said. “If he can let it go, he’ll be a great player.”
Meanwhile, assistant offensive line coach Clayton Johnson is in his first year at Gavilan. The Live Oak grad played two years at right tackle for the Rams before playing every position but center while attending the University of Nevada at Reno.
“I’m not too proud to admit it, but he is way ahead of where I was,” Johnson said. “Wade’s a pretty talented kid. He’s got what it takes and he’ll make an immediate impact wherever he goes.”
Describing Jacobson as “very coachable, very athletic,” Johnson said it’s his footwork that stands out.
“It’s harder to teach the feet aspect,” he said. “Some kids just get it – how to position your body and the whole geometry of the position. But it’s pretty hard to find a big man that has good feet.”
A three-sport athlete in high school, Jacobson was “raw” coming out of San Benito, but had a strong work ethic – “There were times we had to kick Wade out of the weight room,” Johnson said – and has since turned his tireless efforts in the classroom, weight room and on the field, into a scholarship.
“I thought I was too small to play at Gavilan,” Jacobson said. “[Lango] told me I could.”
During a recent combine in May at Chabot College, Jacobson was 12 of 12 in one-on-one competitions with a defensive lineman, sprinted 40 yards in 5.3 seconds, lifted 225 pounds 18 times, had a vertical jump of 24 inches, and concluded a pro agility drill in 4.5 seconds – not bad for a kid who didn’t start playing organized football until high school.
“I was just out there to have fun, to play the game because I loved it,” Jacobson said.
“Now, I don’t know where it’s gonna take me, but it’s gonna be a fun trip.”