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120 Players To Know - Fresno St's Ben Jacobs
Fresno State LB Ben Jacobs
Fresno State LB Ben Jacobs
Posted Mar 6, 2009

Who are the players you need to know about? Maybe they've been under the radar, or maybe they're the future NFL stars who'll be a really big deal next April. Get to know the stars of 2009 as CFN profiles 120 Players You Need To Know over 120 days (one for each team) continuing with Fresno State LB Ben Jacobs.

120 Players You Need To Know

Fresno State LB Ben Jacobs

By Pete Fiutak 

Who is Ben Jacobs? ... There are few harder hitters and few tougher linebackers in college football than Ben Jacobs ... and he has yet to get any national attention despite being such a physical inside presence.

A guided missile for the Bulldog defense over the last two years,
he followed up an 81-tackle season by making a team-leading 113 stops with 5.5 tackles for loss. Considering he has the talent and the production to be a leading preseason candidate in the Preseason WAC Defensive Player of the Year race, he's unassuming, humble, and unlike a star in any way. However, he's a leader.

Jacobs isn't all that big at a rangy 6-3 and 225 pounds, and he had to hit the weights hard just to get to that point. Expected to be nothing more than a promising reserve when he first came to Fresno, he had to play early on as a redshirt freshman after starter Ahijah Lane got knocked out in the last pr
actice before the 2007 season started. Jacobs produced from day one even through it took him a while to figure out what he was doing. His job was simple: hit the ball-carrier. One of the WAC's best at providing the big pop, opposing offenses now have to gameplan around avoiding him.

From his spot in the middle, he has done a great job over the last few years of sniffing out plays and coming up with the big stop when needed.

“Ben is a player who has great instincts and football savvy," said Fresno State head coach Pat Hill. "He’s tough and smart and always around the football. He can bring the lumber and hit you. He’s going to be the best linebacker we’ve ever had here when it’s all said and done."

Jacobs' best game so far was ... vs. Texas A&M in 2007. It was only the second game of his career, after being thrown to the wolves a week earlier making seven stops in his debut. Not only did he come through with a big game in the crushing 47-45 triple loss to Texas A&M, he earned the unquestioned respect of his teammates and grew into a leader of the front seven. Just two games into his career, he became the man mainly because he showed no fear in taking on the massive Aggie fullback, Jorvorskie Lane, time and again. He made 16 tackles, still the most he has made in a game.
Why you should care about Jacobs... With all the injuries and all the problems Fresno State had last year against the run, Jacobs turned into one of the few consistent players. Often a one-man gang thanks to a line that struggled as the season wore on, he was a steady big hitter who was one of the few tone-setters on the defense. This year, he'll be the leader of a good returning group that should be far stronger and won't force him to do as much. A near-lock for the All-WAC team after two excellent years, he's just getting started. So far he has made 194 tackles and will only get better with more and more responsibility heaped upon him.

Pro Potential ... Along with being a high-character playmaker who'll do whatever the coaches ask of him, he's a leader on the field. He might not be the self-promoting type off the field, but he could be the type of player who gets taken late in the 2011 draft and then hangs on because he'll make every play when he gets the shot and will be a key special teamer. He'll light up the scouting tape with his hitting ability and potential to fit someone's inside linebacker role.

Negatives about Jacobs ... He's not huge by NFL linebacker standards, looking like a beefed up safety, but he'll have to prove he's fast enough to work on the outside at the next level. No, he can't be a big defensive back. While he'll always be around the ball, he'll have to run a high 4.6 to get too much notice from the scouts. At his size and with his instincts, he'll have to start getting into the backfield on a more regular basis, even though that's not what he's asked to do.

A cool thing about Jacobs that you probably didn't know ... Not just a great football player, he was a Nevada state champion discuss thrower in high school and finished second in the state as a wrestler.

Career statistics
2007: 81 tackles, 2 sacks, 6 tackles for loss
2008: 113 tackles, 1 sack, 5.5 tackles for loss, five broken up passes

Statistics, information and photo provided by the Fresno State sports information department. Photo by Ryan Watamura