After being lost for the entire 2014 season, Taivon Jacobs finally saw the field a season ago.
As the 2016 season draws closer, Jacobs will look to stand out in a very crowded depth chart.
Jacobs has had a very interesting career up to this point.
Jacobs was a three-star recruit during his time at Suitland (Md.) and was committed to go to Ohio State. However, Jacobs flipped his pledge to Maryland on National Signing Day back in 2013.
The speedy wideout redshirted his freshman season in College Park due to Maryland’s depth at the position. Jacobs was supposed to be a big part of the Terrapins offense in 2014, but he suffered a season-ending knee injury in the season opener against James Madison.
It seemed as though Jacobs was never going to see the field. However, the former Suitland star entered the 2015 season at 100 percent and stayed that way through the entire campaign.
Jacobs ended up catching 21 passes for 264 yards and two touchdowns. He finished third on the team in receiving behind his brother, Levern and freshman standout D.J. Moore.
Given Jacobs’ smaller frame, one of his key strengths is his speed downfield.
One of the truest examples of his speed came against South Florida on September 19.
On the final play of the opening quarter, Jacobs lined up on the outside facing single coverage. He was able to get a step on cornerback Lamar Robbins and make a great catch in stride for the 70-yard touchdown catch-and-run.
Two things made this play possible for Maryland.
Quarterback Caleb Rowe threw an absolute bullet that was right on the money. In addition, Bulls safety Devin Abraham was shaded inside the hash marks, but never moved from that spot even when Rowe released the football.
As much as Jacobs’ speed in effective down the field, he’s also a player that can impact the game on underneath routes.
In the second quarter, center Evan Mulrooney had just been hit with an illegal procedure penalty, which backed Maryland up five yards for a 2nd-and-14. The Terps certainly needed to cut a chunk of yardage out of that before third down.
Rowe took the snap out of the shotgun and quickly found Jacobs on a screen. Jacobs’ speed allowed him to make a pair of South Florida defenders miss, including linebacker Tashon Whitehurst who could’ve had Jacobs dead to rights three yards behind the line of scrimmage.
Ironically, Jacobs recorded the most receptions (four) on only 22 receiving yards against Indiana last season. That was good for just 5.5 yards-per-catch, which isn’t what Maryland fans grew accustomed to seeing from the younger Jacobs.
He also became an asset in the return game late in the season.
Jacobs returned five kickoffs for 95 yards (19.0 yards-per-return). In the season finale against Rutgers, star cornerback Will Likely didn’t suit up, so Jacobs saw extended time in the return game.
He accumulated 71 yards on four kickoff returns and made solid decisions when returning the football. With Maryland’s secondary undergoing so much turnover, coach D.J. Durkin may elect to keep Likely strictly on punts.
Of the 48 kickoff returns that Maryland had in 2015, Likely ran back 35 of them.
If Durkin chooses to limit Likely on kickoff returns, Jacobs could see the field even more on special teams.
Maryland could have anywhere from six to eight wideouts catching passes in 2016. New Mexico State graduate transfer Teldrick Morgan and four-star Tino Ellis will enter the mix.
However, few can offer the big-play ability that Jacobs possesses. If he can stand out in the training camp, it won’t be surprising if Jacobs improves on his 2015 numbers.