With a remarkable story, his perseverance and determination drove Josh Jacobs into becoming a star running back.
At a young age, he was battling homelessness with his father and younger brother, moving from one motel to another and sleeping in the car most nights. He had not received any FBS scholarships until December of his senior year, and for Jacobs, football was not only an escape but a path to glory for his family.
"It's crazy to think about everything that's happening, and it's definitely humbling to think about how I got here," said Jacobs on the night the Raiders selected him in the NFL Draft.
Jacobs was the first running back off the board, selected 24th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders, a pick that belonged to the Chicago Bears but was swapped for Khalil Mack along with other draft picks.
Without knowing, Jacobs was on a path to greatness. A long-list of legendary players have come along the Silver and Black, and already in his rookie season, he was being compared to Super Bowl MVP and Raiders Hall of Famer Marcus Allen.
Jacobs became the first rookie in Raiders history to rush for over 1,000 yards, and he did that by week 13 against the Chiefs. He broke Raiders' rookie rushing record, which belonged to Allen, yet Allen only played in nine games during his rookie season because of a players' strike, rushing for 697 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Marcus Allen went on Twitter to say this about Jacobs, "I said it once, and I'll say it again @iAM_JoshJacobs is destined for greatness."
An impressive rookie season showcased what Jacobs's talents could manifest to be. He finished eighth in the NFL with 1,150 rushing yards, having played in only 13 games--missing three of the last four games with a shoulder injury. He earned an 87.1 Pro Football Focus grade, which was second in the league and the highest among rookies since Adrian Peterson in 2007.
According to PFF, Jacobs' extraordinary season ranked him top-10 in most running back categories. He finished first with 69 missed tackles forced on runs, seventh with 842 yards after contact, ranked the second-most elusive running back in the league, his 88.5 rushing yards per game average was the third-highest, and his 4.8 per carry average tied him for third in the NFL.
"When you watch this kid play, he's getting better and better, not just as a runner, but as a receiver and a pass protector, and Jacobs proved that he could be the go-to guy in first down, second down or third down," Raiders Coach Jon Gruden said.
Jacobs is getting whispers among the league as the next potential elite Raider running back. His production and work ethic is being shouted and recognized throughout the NFL. He could have just scratched off the surface of his potential, and the expectations by the Raiders are there to improve on what already looks like a complete running back destined to be great for years to come.
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