Former Gavilan standout is learning the ropes at the Division I
It was Thursday, March 25 – the first day of spring practice in Pullman, Wash. – and newly transferred Wade Jacobson was simply trying not to screw up.
Brand new to Washington State and the Cougars football team, Jacobson was listed as No. 3 on the depth chart at the left-tackle position for Wazzu.
But any expectation of being eased into his new role along the offensive line was quickly tossed aside on the first day of spring practice.
“I thought they were going to work me in,” said Jacobson, a 2008 graduate of San Benito High School who had spent the last two seasons developing and transforming his game at Gavilan College. “But the first day I went in there I had to ask the guard next to me what to do.”
Not that he wasn’t prepared; the density of Washington State’s playbook just hadn’t fully set in yet. Brand-new lingo and play calls “a paragraph long” needed to be broken down by the time he reached the line of scrimmage, leading to a couple of rough practices early on for Jacobson.
“The first spring practices at Gavilan, everyone is low key, everyone is learning,” he said. “But up here, everyone is going crazy.
“I studied the playbook hard. By the end of the week, I knew all of the plays. By the end of the week, I was taking all the reps for the first string.”
Jacobson continued his 180-degree turnaround in the game of football at spring practice in April, carrying the No. 1 spot up through the spring game. Figuring his football career was all but over following the fall season of 2007 at San Benito, Jacobson is now slotted to start for the Cougars in the fall.
And all he was trying to do was not screw up.
“The speed, it wasn’t that much of a difference. The thing is the plays, that’s the hardest part,” Jacobson said. “With high school and Gavilan, the plays are fairly similar. It’s just the calls are different.”
The 6-foot-6, 315-pound tackle has been making headlines in the Seattle area as well, although few stories have revolved around his newfound No. 1 spot at left tackle.
Instead, stories of what Jacobson has done, and said, have been filling the message boards and fan forums.
For instance, having earned trench duty by the end of the first week, Jacobson was involved in his fair share of spring-practice scuffles at Washington State, which he chalks up to nothing more than some respect-seeking hits.
“My coach at Gavilan, Clayton Johnson, he played D-I football and was a JC transfer,” Jacobson said. “And he said they’re gonna pick on you.”
So Jacobson made it a point to hit the defensive end hard from the first play to the last, all in an effort to gain a little respect among his teammates. It led to about three or four scuffles, of course, but not something the Hollister lineman hasn’t managed to benefit from.
“Go into the locker room and we’re all friends,” Jacobson said.
Case in point, Jacobson’s scuffle partner was none other than left end Jordan Pu’u Robinson – now his roommate.
“It brought us a lot closer,” Jacobson said. “We’re like one big family now.”
Jacobson’s quote to Bud Withers of the Seattle Times on April 22, however, is sure to make the rounds of Pac-10 locker rooms everywhere.
With Cougar offensive line coach Steve Morton wanting his linemen to be the strongest, meanest and nastiest in the Pac-10, Jacobson told Withers his goal this year was to be “the dirtiest player in the Pac-10.”
“I didn’t mean like a cheap-shot player,” Jacobson said on Sunday night from Pullman. “But I want to be the meanest and toughest player in the Pac-10. That’s my goal and that’s the whole O-line’s goal.”
From San Benito to Gavilan and now to Washington State, Jacobson has certainly undergone a crash course in big-time football – and fast. Having started summer school on Monday, the junior will compete through a 20-practice schedule later this summer before the Cougars kick off their 2010 campaign at Oklahoma State on Sept. 4.
The game will be televised on FSN.
“It’ll be weird not taking yellow buses to games,” Jacobson said. “I’ll have to get used to flying.
“But that’s just gonna make this experience even better.”