There in Pembroke, Braves coaches and current players provided a “welcoming feel” and convinced the 6-foot-1, 215-pound linebacker to spend the next portion of his football career at the Division II level.
“I was 70-30 A&T before last weekend,” Jacobs said. “I really thought I would go there until my feelings changed Sunday (night). I called coach (Shane) Richardson the next morning and decided on UNCP. He was thrilled.”
Jacobs made things official just after the first bell rang at Swett on Wednesday, faxing his letter of intent to join 13 others in UNCP’s 2013 class. Swett coach Mark Heil says Jacobs saved his best season for last as a senior, leading the team in tackles, tackles-for-loss and sacks.
Jacobs started the first eight games at defensive end before moving to his more natural spot at linebacker, a switch that let him make more plays on the move. Jacobs returned two interceptions for scores, scooped up a fumble for a touchdown and returned a kickoff during 4A Southeastern Conference play.
“I wish I would’ve put him at linebacker sooner,” Heil said. “He just has a nose for the football. He gets it. We’re really happy for him that he’ll continue his career at UNCP.”
Jacobs’ recruitment really picked up over the last 72 hours prior to National Signing Day. He verbally committed to the Aggies three weeks ago after a visit but waited to sign his binding letter until UNCP gave its pitch. While the idea of playing North Carolina in 2015 with a full scholarship was intriguing, says Jacobs, something didn’t feel right after he got home.
“It’s hard to explain, but UNCP was best suited for me athletically and academically,” Jacobs said. “I do want to say that everything was first class at A&T. They showed me around, fed me and talked about flying to away games and staying in local hotels for home games. The football part being an FCS (Football Championship Subdivision) program may have been better at A&T, but UNCP was where I wanted to be.”
The A&T coaching staff called Heil on Monday to reaffirm Jacobs’ commitment. A few hours later, Jacobs delivered a message to defensive coordinator Sam Washington that he was decommitting and signing with UNCP.
“He was speechless when we spoke, upset I guess,” Jacobs said. “The A&T coaches kept comparing the two programs and what they had to offer, but I just felt more comfortable at Pembroke.”
Jacobs, who also plays in the post on Jeremy Sampson’s basketball team at Swett, missed his entire sophomore football season with a torn knee ligament and played through pain with various ailments as a junior. Heil says Jacobs’ willingness to build muscle and rehab from injury as a senior helped him transform into a pass rushing force with 4.65 speed.
“All the credit goes to Isaac,” Heil said. “He could’ve given up and said the heck with football but he persevered and got through it.”