The maroon and white will have one representative in the 2012 Super Bowl.
Brandon Jacobs, running back for the New York Giants, will suit up for his second Super Bowl Sunday against the New England Patriots. Jacobs’ road to the Super Bowl included a one-year stint at SIU in 2004.
“(Jacobs) is a good family man, and when he came to our place, it was ‘yes sir, no sir,’ and he worked hard,” former SIU football coach Jerry Kill said. “He had a lot to learn. He had to learn how to pass protect, he had to do some things that he hadn’t done before, and I think it actually helped him in the National Football League.”
Kill said Jacobs was part of a three-headed monster at running back for the Salukis with Terry Jackson and Arkee Whitlock, who played with the Canadian Football League’s Edmonton Eskimos last season.
“We had three awfully good tailbacks in one year playing at our place, and they all had great years that year,” Kill said.
Jacobs went to Coffeyville Community College in Coffeyville, Kan., right out of high school, where Kill knew several of the coaches, including then-head coach Jeff Leiker and current running backs coach Dickie Rolls.
“We had four or five people (on the coaching staff) who had coached at Coffeyville or had Coffeyville ties, and they helped us get a lot of Coffeyville kids to southern Illinois,” Kill said. “That connection certainly helped us rebuild that program.”
But the close relationship didn’t help Kill and SIU land Jacobs after he transferred out of Coffeyville. Instead, Jacobs went to Auburn, where they already had two future first-round picks — Ronnie Brown and Cadillac Williams.
Jacobs had 72 carries for 446 yards in his one year at Auburn, but received the third most carries out of the backfield behind Brown and Williams. Jacobs decided to leave Auburn, and Kill’s connection with the Coffeyville coaching staff helped bring him to SIU.
“When Brandon wanted to transfer, he called up coach Dickie Rolls, and coach Rolls contacted us,” Kill said. “We had to get a release, but that’s how that process started.”
Jacobs earned the Gateway Conference — now Missouri Valley Football Conference — Newcomer of the Year award in his one year with the Salukis, posting a team-high 19 touchdowns and 992 rushing yards according to the Saluki Athletics website. Kill said Jacobs helped SIU to its second of five straight playoff appearances under Kill.
“You rarely see a 6-foot-4, 265-pound tailback. That just doesn’t happen,” Kill said. “To get a kid like that, with the ability he had, certainly made an impact at Southern Illinois and the National Football League. It was a once-in-a-lifetime deal.”
Jacobs left SIU after one season and the New York Giants drafted him with pick 110 in the 2005 NFL Draft, the same year Brown and Williams went second and fifth overall in the draft, respectively, according to NFL.com.
“He went to a perfect team,” Kill said. “I think coach (Tom) Coughlin’s done a good job, and he’s had success there. Anytime you can last (seven years) at tailback, that’s unusual. My hat’s off to him, and I’m very, very proud of him.”
Jacobs scored 16 touchdowns in his first two years with the Giants, and in 2007 he broke the 1,000 rushing yard mark for the first time in his career. 2007 also happened to be the year Jacobs went to the Super Bowl for the first time against the New England Patriots, who were gunning for a perfect season that year.
“We didn’t know we could go out and do it in 2007,” Jacobs said Wednesday during Super Bowl media day. “We were just going out and playing hard, and got hot at the right time.”
But Jacobs and the Giants spoiled the Patriots perfect season with a 17-14 victory on a last-minute scoring drive by the Giants, highlighted by David Tyree’s 32-yard reception that he pinned to his helmet with Patriots safety Rodney Harrison draped on him.
Now Jacobs will play in his second Super Bowl against those same Patriots. That’s two more Super Bowls than his former teammates at Auburn, Brown and Williams, have played.
“We’re not saying ‘We beat them in ‘07, we can beat them again,’ so why would they say it’s for revenge?” Jacobs said. “It’s another football game, it’s going to be a tough-fought football game, and that’s all we’re looking at it being.”