Jacobs really catching on as Dawgs top target
By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on October 29, 2009 1:47 PM
Following Princeton's 4-8 season a year ago, Patrick Jacobs had no idea that in a matter of months his football world would get turned upside down.
A new quarterback, a position change and a full immersion into the spread offense later, Jacobs has transformed into the area's leading wide receivers.
Quarterback David Gurganus transferred from Charles B. Aycock and Bulldogs head coach Russell Williamson elected to install the spread offense.
Jacobs spent his first three years of high school playing defense before being asked to switch to wide receiver for his senior season. During the summer, he got an education about the intricacies of playing receiver and Princeton's new offense. Workouts that began as early as 7 a.m. allowed Jacobs to develop chemistry with his new quarterback.
"I knew David was a great athlete," said Jacobs. "As a quarterback I didn't really know what to expect because I had never seen him play football before. The first few days of those summer workouts I was impressed and I really liked him.
"He's very friendly, very welcoming and we just clicked from the beginning."
As a defender, Jacobs relished the opportunity to shut down an opposing offense or to lay a crushing hit on a receiver or running back.
It took just a few practices with Jacobs lined up at receiver for him to develop a love affair with a position he had spent three years trying to stop. That newly discovered passion for offense has translated into an area-best 856 receiving yards on 58 catches with five touchdowns.
"Everybody at church tells me I had a great game and everything," said Jacobs. "I don't really let it go to my head. If it's a win, it's a win. If it's a loss it doesn't matter how well one player did it's still a loss for the team.
"It was surprising to find out that my stats were that high. It doesn't really affect me because I'm focused on going far in the playoffs which we haven't done in a really long time. I really want to do that for the school."
In just one season Jacobs has developed into a precise route runner, a reliable target and has adapted to Gurganus' ability to scramble and make plays on the run. All of Princeton's receivers have had to adjust to a mobile quarterback, and learn when to break off a route and come back to the ball.
"Patrick is a very, very smart receiver and his hands are like glue," said Gurganus. "He knows where a defender is playing and how deep a route needs to be run or where he needs to cut it off at. All of our receivers, once they run their certain routes and they see me scrambling, they'll cut back to the ball and find an open spot.
"Not all receivers can adjust to that, but all of our receivers are very, very smart."
In its spread attack Princeton rarely huddles and attempts to run a play every eight seconds. Making the transition from the Bulldogs' run-oriented scheme from a year ago to their new pass-first offense has been a learning process for not just Jacobs but the entire program.
"I think the whole offense has been a learning process for all of them," said Williamson. "The kids did a great job in the summer coming out and we would work on it two or three times a week, and early in the morning, too. I think the tempo has helped us a lot, especially in practice because we get in more reps.
"Some of the teams we played early in the year got tired in the third and fourth quarter. Where we had running with it all summer we had run ourselves into shape running pass patterns."
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