Stephon Jacob, who hadn’t played football in two years, went through the banner and saw the Damascus High School stands packed with more fans than he’d ever seen for one of his games.
After playing basketball for two years at Our Lady of Good Counsel, Jacob was back home beside the friends with whom he’d grown up, and he just wanted to savor the moment before the 2012 opener against Clarksburg.
“There’s no greater feeling than Friday nights in Damascus,” Jacob said.
Moments later, it got even better.
Jacob recovered a fumble on the opening kickoff and returned it for a touchdown, raising the ball over his head as he ran the final 15 yards.
“It was my adrenaline rushing, and it was just an amazing feeling,” Jacob said.
Jacob drew a penalty for his celebration, showing, for all his potential, he still had a few kinks to work out in his first high school football season.
After beginning the year as a special teamer, Jacob earned steady roles as a tight end and outside linebacker. This season, he’s starting and excelling at both positions.
“Now, he’s one of the top players in Maryland,” Damascus coach Eric Wallich said.
Jacob transferred to Damascus and switched to football from basketball to improve his chances at getting a college scholarship. So far, he hasn’t received an offer, but University of Virginia, Old Dominion, Appalachian State, Elon, James Madison, Richmond, Delaware, Coastal Carolina, Monmouth, Stony Brook, Albany, Duquesne, Towson and New Hampshire have all shown interest.
The senior must prove himself to college football coaches who hadn’t heard of him before last season. If how quickly Jacob impressed Wallich is any indication, college offers should roll in soon.
“A lot of times, basketball kids, when they haven’t played football, you don’t expect a lot of toughness from them,” Wallich said. “But he actually was very tough, and I think his best quality is how smart he is. You tell him one time, he locks it in his brain. He was like a sponge. He learned the offense and defense — pretty amazing for just one year.”
Once Jacob acclimated to wearing pads, his talent began to show, and a list of his best traits on the football field reads like a basketball scouting report:
Boxes out well.
Ambidextrous. (Jacobs writes with both hands. Primarily, he dribbles and eats with his right hand and leads with his right shoulder, and he throws and shoots with his left hand and kicks with his left foot).
By playing basketball and football, Jacob might have delayed his first scholarship offer, but Wallich expects one will come soon. It’s not just that he has seen Jacob up close for more than a year, but Wallich has noticed how Montgomery County opponents have increasingly paid attention to Jacob and believes college recruiters will follow suit.
“Any school that is scouting Damascus, he’s not under the radar to them,” Wallich said.