UF FOOTBALL

JUCO transfer Jacobs out to prove his worth

Defensive tackle Damien Jacobs looks to succeed where others have struggled.


Published: Sunday, April 1, 2012 at 10:56 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, April 2, 2012 at 12:23 a.m.

The Florida football team has struck out with defensive tackle prospects recruited out of junior colleges in the last 10 years.

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Defensive tackle Damien Jacobs came to Florida from East Mississippi Community College. (Photo courtesy of UF Communications)

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The three players UF signed — Eric Holcombe (2003), Troy Epps (2008) and Edwin Herbert (2009) — did not become successful players during their time in Gainesville.

Florida's latest signee, Damien Jacobs, plans on breaking the cycle.

“That's something I want to change, that's like a goal to me,” Jacobs said.

Jacobs, who was the nation's No. 10 overall JUCO prospect according to Rivals.com, talked about the advantages and disadvantages of coming to Florida as a junior rather than a freshman.

“I'm a little older. I've gotten mature at junior college and learned how to stop making those high school mistakes,” Jacobs said.

“The disadvantage for me is the high school guys have more time to develop and they're in the same program for four years instead of having to change halfway through their college career.”

Jacobs won the 2011 NJCAA championship at East Mississippi Community College, and he said that experience helped prepare him for the next level.

“I think coming out of Mississippi is going to be a big advantage for me because we played competitive football at the highest JUCO level,” Jacobs said. “So I feel like I'm a step ahead and I'm ready to make a big impact.

“Some JUCO players don't get the coaching that I got, so it's a harder adjustment for them. And if they're not as developed as they should be, they could run out of time on the bench.”

UF coach Will Muschamp said he received positive feedback during his research on Jacobs, and having him come from a winning program is a big plus.

“I think it helps everybody,” Muschamp said. “Generally, winning means you've got good players and they know how to work. So I think anytime you're a part of something like that, it's good to have a kid that's been exposed to those two things.

“When we did our research on Damien at East Mississippi, we know all the coaches over there and they do a great job. They are guys that really thought highly of his character and his work ethic, and that's important when you're taking a guy like him.”

Muschamp has been pleased with Jacobs' ability in practice, but he still needs to show more consistency in his play.

“Consistency every snap, that's the big thing,” Muschamp said. “Damien really shows some nice flashes at times as far as his get-off. He's got quick hands and he can flip his hips in a rush. He's a guy that can anchor in the run game. He's got all the tools. It's just the consistency in his performance, down in and down out. We gotta get him headed in that direction.”

Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn said enrolling early was crucial for Jacobs and will pay dividends in August.

“For me, having the junior college player here at a lineman position for the spring, that really makes a difference,” Quinn said. “It's a whole new system and that's hard to learn in just a training camp. There's (also) a lot of technical play — where do you put your hands, where do you put your eyes, how do you run the stunt. So I thought it was critical for Damien to get here and be a part of our spring practice and part of our offseason program so he's making the necessary strides moving forward. I like where we're headed with him.”

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