Jacobs sets sights on strong finish

Florida defensive tackle Damien Jacobs is looking to lock down a starting role as a senior.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Monday, August 5, 2013 at 8:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 11:53 p.m.

With Florida having lost departed starting tackles Sharrif Floyd and Omar Hunter from its strong 2012 defense, senior Damien Jacobs entered preseason camp as one of the leading candidates to help fill the void.

He doesn't plan on wasting his chance.

“This is a really good opportunity,” said the 6-foot-3, 297-pounder from Gibson, La. “It's my senior year, and everybody wants to play their senior year. I think I have a great opportunity to start and would like to nail a spot down to make a good representation of me for my family and my football team.”

Jacobs was one of the top prospects in the nation coming out of H.L. Bourgeois High School.

He verbally committed to Florida State, but ended up attending East Mississippi Community College where he started for two seasons, helping lead the Lions to an undefeated record and the NJCAA national championship in 2011.

He finished that year with 47 total tackles, including eight tackles for loss, two sacks, four quarterback hurries and two fumble recoveries.

With his recruitment opened up again, he signed on the dotted line with UF and played in 12 games as a backup for the Gators last season, recording 10 tackles with 2.5 sacks.

“The biggest thing last year was just getting used to the tempo and the speed of the game,” Jacobs said. “The schemes and the types of plays that are being called are a lot more complex.”

The Gators signed another EMCC defensive tackle, Darious Cummings, after last season.

Cummings, a 6-1, 301-pound junior from Titusville Astronaut, also originally signed with FSU but is now a Gator, and Jacobs has helped show him the ropes.

“The expectations here are a lot for JuCo tackles, so that's the biggest thing for a transfer,” Jacobs said. “If you can get over that, you'll be alright.”

Yet another EMCC defensive tackle, 6-4, 305-pounder Jarran Reed, signed with UF as well, but he did not qualify academically.

“Yeah, I was disappointed because I wanted him to make it and give us three guys representing our JuCo,” Jacobs said. “But overall, it's been good.

“Darious and I can relate to each other about our paths, so we can be honest with each other. We both signed with Florida State in 2010, so we've kind of been friends since and have been having conversations for a couple of years now.”

The fact that the two of them could wind up playing against the Seminoles later this year is certainly ironic.

“I think it was a blessing in disguise that the situation didn't work out for either one of us,” Jacobs said. “We're in a better place for ourselves now, so I think it was a good thing for both of us.”

Jacobs says he knows what he has to do to be a major contributor for the Gators in 2013.

“I just need to stay focused, get better every day, and continue to work hard,” he said. “There are a lot of great athletes here at the University of Florida, so the only way you're going to get on the field is to outwork them.”

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