Everyone may know Josh Jacobs as the former Alabama running back. Now, he’s become a national star in just his rookie season for the Oakland Raiders. The odds for Jacobs to make it to the NFL was nearing impossible until a few years ago.
Before becoming a fan-favorite with the Raiders faithful, Jacobs was raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma. When Josh was in fourth grade, his parents got a divorce. He stuck with his father, Marty, while his three brothers and sister lived with their mother. While his dad was attempting to secure an apartment, the two were relegated to sleeping on relatives’ couches. For multiple weeks, Josh was also sleeping in his father’s car. At last, he was reunited with his sister and three brothers. They all moved into the apartment together. Life seemed to be going better for the family -until their dad lost his job.
The family was forced to motel hop while Marty was job-hunting and seeking stability. This continued over a two year period. Josh handled his tough years exceptionally well. When being forced to live in dirty motels and eat nothing but Ramen noodles, Josh did not think of his life as a struggle. “To me, it was just life. It was all that I knew,” he said before being drafted. It was this kind of resilience that propelled his career forward.
His father was key in keeping Josh on the right path. Even throughout his frustration with not being able to adequately provide for his children, Marty Jacobs did not succumb to selling drugs to earn extra money. His father’s drive to legally provide for his children despite falling on hard times is one of the main reasons why Josh had a strong work ethic.
When Marty Jacobs was finally able to find a job, Josh turned his focus back to his love of football. Josh flew under the national radar despite being a solid running back in his sophomore and junior seasons of high school. He exploded during his 2015 senior season, compiling 2,704 of his 5,376 rushing yards and 36 of his 64 touchdowns during the year. He averaged an absurd 15.1 yards per carry, but still had little to no Division 1 attention.
Jacobs received help from a man by the name of G. Smith to get him on the recruiting map. He helped Jacobs compile numerous highlight videos on a Twitter account that he helped Josh create. With Smith’s aid, Josh finally started seeing the D1 offers roll in. Offers from Oklahoma, TCU, Texas, Purdue, and Missouri were impressive for a guy that was relatively unknown before his senior year. The ultimate reward came from a surprising offer made by Alabama head coach Nick Saban. Jacobs took the Bama scholarship and was a highly effective running back in college. Despite only 251 total college carries, Jacobs averaged 5.9 per rush and had 21 total touchdowns. He established his draft stock by rushing for two touchdowns with over 80 yards against Georgia in the SEC Championship game. He followed that up with 158 scrimmage yards and a receiving score against Oklahoma in the College Football Playoff Semifinal game.
Jacobs’ ability to run hard combined with his work ethic, made him an exciting prospect for the NFL Draft. He showed the ability to catch passes at Alabama and had a 4.40 second 40-yard dash. The Oakland Raiders selected Josh Jacobs with the 24th pick in the first round. Most draft analysts thought he was taken too early on the board. He was knocked because of a light workload at Alabama, but Gruden saw this as an opportunity to mold him into a workhorse. Josh Jacobs has quickly shut up those who doubted his lead back capabilities, rushing for 811 yards on 168 carries as well as seven touchdowns in just nine games. He has yet to make a huge impact as a pass catcher with only 14 receptions for 132 yards. But, this is a skill he will quickly improve upon. Jacobs has also proven his competitiveness this year, playing through a sprained AC joint in his shoulder and not missing a single game.
Although, Josh Jacobs has made it to the NFL, he never forgets his roots. He attributes all of his success to his father, his siblings, his three-year-old son, and all of his coaches that helped get him to this point. He also has a message for those who are in a similar situation to he was as a child. “I run for anyone who’s in a tough situation and feels like it’s never going to end -that there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. I run to show them that there is.” Josh has proven himself to not only be a great NFL running back, but also a role model for kids across the country. This is a player you can look up to not only on the football field, but also in the way that he composes himself throughout all of his success. Jacobs is a prime example of how far work ethic and gratitude can take you. We can all learn from his journey to the NFL. The sky’s the limit for Mr. Jacobs in the NFL and it sure seems like he’ll reach it someday.