The path to the National Football League is a long and arduous journey, but Levern Jacobs wouldn’t have it any other way.
The former Suitland High School and University of Maryland (College Park) alumnus hopes to fulfill his dream of playing professional football after recently joining the Washington Football team as an undrafted free agent.
Levern Jacobs is a free agent trying his luck at Washington’s football camp this summer. (Photo by Daniel Kucin)
“Levern is very competitive. He is not going to let someone get the best of him, he is going to get the best of you,” Suitland High School Head Coach Ed Shields told the AFRO. “His work matches his competitiveness, and that is why he is there.”
When asked if being undrafted will keep a chip on his shoulder to succeed as an undrafted player Shields let out a big chuckle and said “absolutely.”
Ranked as the 12th best player in the state of Maryland and No. 78 nationally by ESPN in 2010, the five-foot-eleven speedster hauled in 40 receptions and eight touchdowns during his final season as a Ram and participated in the Maryland Crab Bowl that year.
It was a bounce-back performance from the Temple Hills native after he suffered an injury and missed a significant chunk of time during the regular season. Despite his early dismissal, he pulled down 37 receptions for 702 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Jacobs received interest from a bevy of top-tier football programs including Marshall, Temple, and New Mexico, but he found a home in College Park where he would eventually join his brother Taivon in 2013.
“A funny story was when Levern had a small injury in high school when he was working out with his brother, he said ‘Coach he’s hurt, and he’s still doing more than me,’” Shields said jokingly.
“That is the kind of work that Levern will put in,” Shields said. “He was a big-play receiver for us, he could return kicks, run disciplined routes, and I was very fortunate to have him. I’m not surprised that he is playing for an NFL team.”
As a sophomore, in 2013, Jacobs had the best season of his career when he appeared in 12 games and led the Terrapins in receptions (47) and receiving yards (640) while tying the lead for touchdowns with three. Even though Jacobs showed promise as a player after two successful seasons with Maryland, he missed the opportunity of playing with his brother the following season after being suspended for second-degree assault. He was found not guilty of the charges and returned to action in 2015.
Jacobs dealt with adversity, but it didn’t stop him from performing at a high level afterward. He led his team in receptions (35) and in receiving yardage (425).
Jacobs started the most games in his collegiate career as a senior (10) and finished his stint at Maryland ranked as the seventh best player in school history in receptions with 130 catches. He had a career high of 10 receptions against Minnesota on Oct. 15, 2016, and rode on a 13-game reception streak coming into his final season as a Terp.
At pro day, Jacobs ran a 4.45 in the 40-yard dash, had 13 reps on the bench press and showed his athleticism with a 39-inch vertical with an 11-foot, three-inch broad jump. Those results and his performance at Maryland led Washington to bring him into the camp for a chance to prove himself at the next level.
Time will tell if he will remain on a squad loaded with receivers, but Jacobs said he is up for the challenge and understands it will not be easy. He isn’t taking his shot at playing in the NFL lightly.
“There is pressure playing in the NFL,” Jacobs told the AFRO. “Pressure from the team, family, and friends. Everyone wants you to do well, and the only thing that you can do is do your best. It is a great feeling. I’m a hometown kid playing for a hometown team. My family is proud, and I appreciate the opportunity.”