WR picks up where he left off


Published: Sunday, September 1, 2002 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, September 1, 2002 at 1:12 a.m.

In January, the Orange Bowl was a career game for Florida wideout Taylor Jacobs.

Now it seems like a sneak preview.

In the final game of the 2001 season, Jacobs broke out of the lengthy shadow created by fellow receivers Jabar Gaffney and Reche Caldwell when he caught 10 passes for 170 yards and two touchdowns.

Saturday, Jacobs blew past that performance like an Alabama-Birmingham defensive back.

Jacobs caught six passes for 206 yards and two touchdowns Saturday.

And then it was halftime.

Jacobs finished the day with a school-record 246 yards and two touchdowns, breaking Carlos Alvarez's 33-year-old school record. Alvarez had 237 yards in a 35-16 win over Miami on Nov. 29, 1969.

"Wow, 246 yards, that's a pretty good day," Florida coach Ron Zook said. "Taylor played really well tonight. He's got a chance to be pretty exceptional."

Jacobs broke the record early in the fourth quarter when he caught an 18-yard pass from backup QB Ingle Martin. He was then taken out of the game and left to ponder his new place in Gator football history.

Jacobs became a regular in Florida's starting lineup when former coach Steve Spurrier used three- and four-receiver sets last season. But the shadow cast by Gaffney and Caldwell was a long one. Jacobs was never any better than the third option, which was a big reason why Jacobs decided to skip the NFL Draft and return to Florida for his senior season.

It was his turn.

Jacobs and Rex Grossman became a footnote in Gator history when the duo connected on a 59-yard reception to open the Zook and Ed Zaunbrecher era and the 2002 season. The play set up a touchdown as Florida running back Earnest Graham found the end zone four plays later.

Three drives later, Grossman looked deep and found Jacobs again for a 51-yard reception.

In the second quarter Jacobs was finally able to find the end zone when he and Grossman connected on touchdowns of 45 and 18 yards.

"He had a really great day," Grossman said. "I have a lot of confidence whenever I'm throwing to Taylor."

While it was already well-known about what Jacobs could do with the football, Zook said there's one clear thing that separates Jacobs from the rest of the receivers.

"He really has amazing speed," Zook said. "No one is close to him."

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