Taivon Jacobs motivated by list of former Terrapins receivers in NFL
COLLEGE PARK | Despite its struggles on and off the field, Maryland has become adept at developing wide receivers this decade.
D.J. Moore was drafted in the first round by the Carolina Panthers last spring while Stefon Diggs, a product of Good Counsel in Olney, was selected in the fifth round by the Minnesota Vikings three years ago.
The list of recent NFL selections includes 2013 Green Bay Packers seventh-round pick Kevin Dorsey and 2011 Baltimore Ravens second-round pick Torrey Smith, who is now teammates with Moore at Carolina.
Moore, Smith and the Panthers play the Redskins at FedEx Field on Sunday.
“It is always great to be around guys like that,” Maryland receiver Taivon Jacobs said of former teammates Moore and Diggs. “They make you want to go harder. That is always good. Hopefully I can improve my game.”
Jacobs, a graduate of Suitland High in suburban Maryland, may not be a high NFL draft pick but the senior is closing in on a milestone.
The preseason all-conference player has 954 career receiving yards and could reach 1,000 Saturday when Maryland (3-2, 1-1 in the Big Ten) hosts Rutgers (1-5, 0-3) at noon in the homecoming game.
The 5-foot-11 Jacobs is a leader among the Terps’ receivers.
“I started out as a freshman taking heat from the older guys, like my brother and Stefon Diggs,” said Jacobs, whose older brother Levern was also a Maryland wideout. “It helped motivate me into the player I am now. I just try to improve my game any way possible.”
Jacobs was second on the team with 47 catches last season, when he had five touchdowns. This season, he has 12 catches and has had to snare balls from two quarterbacks in Tyrrell Pigrome and Kasim Hill.
“They are both exceptional. They both can run, they both can pass,” Jacobs said. “We are just trying to find ways to get them the ball as well.”
Interim coach Matt Canada gave a similar assessment of his two quarterbacks.
“Both of them can throw the ball very well,” Canada said. “It’s not that that’s not a skill for either of them, but certainly under center, Kasim has developed into a good pocket passer, he’s doing well there. We’ve got to continue to give him opportunities and protection, call better plays, and then Pig comes in there and he’s dynamic with the football and can still throw it as well.”
Maryland defensive back and DeMatha product Tino Ellis faces both quarterbacks every day in practice.
“It is hard (to prepare),” Ellis said. “Different quarterbacks make different kinds of plays.”
The Terps will be a favorite against Rutgers. But Maryland was also supposed to win at home against Temple, but lost 35-14 on Sept. 15.
The offense is still trying to find its way after a lopsided 42-21 loss on Saturday at Michigan, which was ranked No. 12 in the nation this week.
“Well, we’ve got to get (the receivers) the football more,” Canada said. “I have great faith in our wideouts, great faith in our quarterbacks, great faith in our pass protection. We’ve got to play better at times.”
Off the field, Terrapins coach D.J. Durkin continues on administrative leave after the June death of lineman Jordan McNair at a practice session. A Maryland spokesman doesn’t know when the fate of Durkin will be decided. The next Board of Regents meeting is Oct. 19.
Last weekend, an athletic booster was taken off the team’s plane before the Terrapins’ flight to Michigan.
According to ESPN, some Maryland players were not happy with the comments booster Rick Jaklitsch made to The Diamondback school paper about the death of McNair.
With that as a backdrop, the Terrapins have won three of their last four homecoming games.
“We’ve got some former players that are going to come back and obviously alumni come back and you know this is their campus, their school,” Canada said. “Those who have been so supportive of our players, we are very appreciative of. We are going through a grieving process and a lot of our students have been amazing to our players and I’m sure a lot of the alumni that come back are going to come back and be appreciative of how the players have handled this how they’ve handled the adversity.”
“It is always great to have their support,” Jacobs said. “At the end of the day we have to focus on our group and go out there and get a victory.”
What advice did Jacobs gets from his brother about his last college season?
“Just have fun, no matter what happens. Go have fun that is something you can control,” Jacobs said.