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Joshua Jacobs: From unheralded to next man up

The former 3 star recruit has seemingly cemented his status as the #2 running back with a breakout performance against Kent State.

NCAA Football: Kent State at Alabama Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Joshua Jacobs was a largely unheralded member of the 2016 recruiting class. He was lightly recruited until December when major programs finally started noticing him. Jacobs was just a 3 star recruit out of McLain High School in Tulsa, Oklahoma, but at Alabama he quickly passed more highly-touted backs ahead of him and began contributing from Week 1.

1st and 10: On just the fifth play of the game, Damien Harris suffers an injury and is done for the day. Neither Bo Scarbrough (a 5 star) nor B.J. Emmons (a 4 star) comes in. Just like against Ole Miss, Jacobs is the second back to see the field. He’s to the left of Jalen Hurts in the shotgun. O.J. Howard is to the left at H-Back, and Ridley is the wideout on the side. Gehrig Dieter motions right to left, and Hurts fakes the toss to him. Jacobs slowly slips out of the backfield into the right flat. Hurts dumps it to him, and he easily catches it and turns upfield. He makes one man miss with a nifty little move and is brought down for a gain on 8.

2nd and 10: Alabama is in its familiar 11 personnel with trips right and utility man Trevon Diggs as the lone receiver to the left. Jacobs is to the right of Hurts and gets the handoff. He beats the linebacker, shrugging off an attempted tackle. Jacobs lowers his shoulder, banging into the safety, and has a gain of 16 on his first run of the day.

2nd and 3: Jacobs is to the left of Hurts here. He receives the handoff is immediately in trouble. Alphonse Taylor (at right guard) is supposed to block back against the defensive tackle but just whiffs. Jonah Williams at right tackle also misses his man. Jacobs threads the needle, though, and cuts it outside with some help from Bozeman’s solid block. He avoids one tackle before getting tripped up. Nice 10 yard run.

2nd and 4: Jacobs is back and to the right of Hurts, and we’re set up for an inside zone. Hale Hentges motions in tight as the H-back while Howard and Derek Kief are wide left. Sims is by himself on the right. On the snap, Hentges comes across to block the weakside lineback as Ross Pierschbacher pulls to the right and blocks the defensive end. Hentges walls the linebacker off and Lester Cotton does a nice job of getting to the second level and engaging the middle linebacker. Cam Robinson and Bradley Bozeman take care of their men, and Jacobs bursts through the hole before the strongside backer can get over. Jacobs is untouched until he’s 12 yards down the field, but he easily avoids the safety’s attempt to trip him up. A corner desperately tries to bring him down, but Jacobs falls forward and stretches the ball across the goalline for his second touchdown of the day.

3rd and 1: We see a similar formation to the last one. Howard is the H-back here, and he motions right to left. Ridley is wide left while Sims and Dieter are on the right. Howard comes back behind the line to seal off the defensive end. Senior safety Nate Holley is playing the box and, unfortunately for the Golden Flashes, he leaves his lane wide open. Jacobs sees the hole and makes his cut. Holley is able to get back over and grabs at his ankles; but Jacobs stays on his feet, pushing through two more defenders for a gain of 15 yards, 10 of which came after contact.