- Associated Press - Thursday, February 6, 2014

STONEWALL, Texas (AP) - Out here deep in the heart of peach country and the land of LBJ, Elliot Jacoby grew up like many kids his age, showing goats and sheep at the county fair.

But Jacoby was different. “He was always my little daredevil,” his mother said.

That meant doing flips off the diving board at the local pool and one time even climbing up a cellphone tower. It only seems natural, then, that today Jacoby rides bulls for a living.

“It’s a great feeling when you’re successful and you can stay on for eight seconds,” said the 23-year-old, now in his second season on the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association tour.

Jacoby and his daring will be among the featured attractions at the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo that opened Thursday and runs through Feb. 23 at the AT&T; Center.

A year ago, San Antonio figured prominently in Jacoby’s march to the National Finals Rodeo in December as a rookie.

Committed to compete at a rodeo in Georgia and residing just outside the top 50 on the money list, Jacoby didn’t qualify for the local event. But an injury to a bull rider created an opening, and Jacoby received the call.

“It’s my home rodeo,” he said recently on his father’s 400-acre ranch between Stonewall and Fredericksburg. “I remember going to it as a kid with my dad.”

He won first place in only his second round and wound up advancing all the way to the semifinals, a performance that provided momentum for the rest of the year. Jacoby ended up winning five rodeos in 2013, including the 130-year-old West of the Pecos Rodeo in Pecos and the ABC Pro Rodeo in Lubbock. That was enough to earn him a spot at the NFR in Las Vegas.

Although that experience didn’t turn out the way he would have liked, Jacoby still ended up ranked 15th in the final world standings in his event. Traveling with Chandler Bownds, Ryan Shanklin and Lucas Guilbeau, Jacoby netted $76,548 in earnings. JW. Harris of Mullin won the world title in bull riding with winnings of $252,829.

“It was disappointing. Something just wasn’t clicking,” Jacoby said of his first NFR. “I’m eager to get back there.”

Jacoby played football, baseball and soccer as a youth. His friends were into riding bulls, but Jacoby didn’t think much of the idea at first. The group included his older brother, Chad. “I thought they were crazy,” Jacoby told the San Antonio Express-News (http://bit.ly/N8XGVu ).

But it wasn’t long before he joined them, riding at youth rodeos and at Texas High School Rodeo Association events. In 2006, he qualified for the National High School Finals Rodeo. At 18, he turned pro and soon was competing on the Championship Bull Riding and Professional Bull Riders tours. He qualified for the PBR finals in 2009 and 2011.

Jacoby is scheduled to compete in the Feb. 11-13 bracket in San Antonio and also the Xtreme Bulls on Feb. 22.

He wears a protective vest during competition but not a helmet. He’s had a number of injuries, including a broken cheekbone, collarbone and leg. He says he also has been knocked unconscious several times while riding bulls.

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