Alabama in the Pros

Pair of former Heisman winners were entertained by Josh Jacobs’ rookie season

Kirby Lee - USA TODAY Sports

His story brought tears to the eyes of many, but his game has taken the National Football League by storm.

Despite growing up homeless in Tulsa, Okla., Josh Jacobs used his circumstance as motivation to provide a better life for his family as well as himself.

Without starting a full season at the University of Alabama, the former three-star dominated the collegiate game. 

After ending his career as a fan favorite, Jacobs would be selected at No. 24 overall by the Oakland Raiders (now Las Vegas Raiders) in the first-round of the 2019 NFL Draft. 

He turned in an incredible rookie season under Jon Gruden, becoming the first rookie in franchise history to total a 1,000-yard campaign at running back. The 5-foot-10, 220-pounder tallied 1,150 yards rushing with seven touchdowns on 242 carries through 16 games. 

He was eighth in the league for rushing yards and recorded five 100-yard performances. 

Jacobs was special in the months of October and November, as he twice was awarded AFC’s Offensive Rookie of the Month. With him, the Raiders were highly entertaining – despite missing the playoffs at 7-9.

As the team continues to draft around him, Jacobs will have the franchise in the postseason soon. He has already excited his peers in the NFL, including two former Crimson Tide standouts that were Heisman Trophy winners in their collegiate careers.  

Both Mark Ingram and Derrick Henry see greatness for Jacobs on the horizon. 

“Josh Jacobs is the man,” Ingram said on Thursday at Orlando (Fla.) for the Pro Bowl. 

“He changes the identity of the team with him being able to be a physical runner, an explosive runner and catching the ball out of the backfield. He’s great talent and he showed it all year long. I think he has a great case to be Rookie of the Year and I’m a big fan of his. He is going to be a Pro Bowler for plenty of years, an All-Pro, and I feel like he’s going to be one of the best backs in this league for a long time.” 

This is huge praise coming from the first Heisman winner in Alabama football history. 

As for the second one, Henry said Jacobs ‘can do it all.’ 

“He’s a beast,” Henry said of Jacobs. “You saw it in college when he got his opportunity. I already knew what time it was. I wasn’t shocked at all.” 

In going back to Ingram, one thing he’s pushing for is an Alabama RB Pro Bowl. 

“Hopefully, we can get that next year,” Ingram said. “You never know, we could have Derrick Henry, myself, Josh Jacobs and Kenyan Drake.” 

For someone who is considered the biggest ambassador of Tide football, fans would love to see Ingram’s dream come to fruition. As of now, he and Henry are just very proud of Jacobs. 

RELATED: Josh Jacobs wins PFWA’s Offensive Rookie of the Year


Should he win the league’s Offensive Rookie of the Year, Jacobs will be recognized at the NFL Honors ceremony on Feb. 1 at 7:00 p.m. on Fox.  

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Stephen M. Smith is the managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @CoachingMSmith.

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