- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 22, 2003

INDIANAPOLIS The day after the Washington Redskins concluded a 7-9 season, Steve Spurrier was asked what he wished he had done differently in his first season as an NFL coach.
Among the several regrets he named, perhaps most intriguing was Spurrier's admission he brought in too many of his former college stars from Florida, particularly wide receivers.
The Redskins had four former Gators receivers on their active roster at one time or another during the 2002 season. Three (Jacquez Green, Reidel Anthony and Willie Jackson) were cut in midseason. Only Chris Doering made it through December, and as a restricted free agent who made 18 receptions, he soon could join his ex-Florida mates as ex-Redskins.
So imagine the soul-searching, hand-wringing predicament Spurrier might find himself in on NFL Draft day if Washington's No.13 pick comes up and standout Florida receiver Taylor Jacobs is still on the board.
Could the Ball Coach pass over a talented former Florida wideout who appears to be a perfect answer to one of the Redskins' most pressing needs: a speedster to complement No.1 receiver Rod Gardner?
Jacobs, who is participating in this week's scouting combine at RCA Dome, hopes not.
"That would be great," he said of the possibility of being reunited with Spurrier and the Fun'N'Gun offense. "It would be like coming back to something you already know. Of course, it's Coach Spurrier's call. But if I got a chance, I'd already know what I'd be doing."
The Redskins would be fighting more than just Spurrier's heart if faced with the prospect of drafting Jacobs. They would be fighting the perception that great Florida players don't make great NFL players.
The list of Gators standouts who turned into professional busts is lengthy. The knock on Spurrier's former college receivers is that they lack the size and route-running abilities necessary to succeed in the NFL.
Jacobs, though, might be the one to break the cursed Florida mold. At 6 feet and 205 pounds, he is taller and stronger than his predecessors from Gainesville. He also had the speed to qualify for last year's NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships in the 200 meters.
Jacobs, who had 71 receptions for 1,088 yards and eight touchdowns as a senior, is being lauded by draft gurus around the country. He's earned praise like "the top wide receiver to come out of the Florida Gators offense during any portion of the Steve Spurrier era," "the No.1 senior receiver in the draft" and "the most polished Florida receiver to be in the draft pool in years."
Local fans might recall his MVP performance from the 2002 Orange Bowl against Maryland, when he paced the Gators' blowout victory with 10 catches for 170 yards and two touchdowns.
Asked to assess his abilities, Jacobs speaks highly of himself in all aspects of the game, though he still acknowledges that most scouts are initially attracted to his speed.
"When I'm fresh, I don't feel like anybody can run with me," he said. "But I also think I've proven that I can catch, that I can run routes. And coming out here and showing scouts is only going to help me."
By most accounts, Jacobs is the third-rated receiver in this year's draft behind Michigan State's Charles Rogers and Miami's Andre Johnson, both big, physical underclassmen who are expected to be top-five picks.
Jacobs isn't in their class, but he's not far behind as a mid-first rounder who already has been tabbed the Redskins' top pick in one nationally prominent mock draft.
"I don't pay attention," he said. "If I see something that says something about the NFL Draft, I turn around and walk away. It just gives you a false hope. All I hear is that I've got a good chance to be picked the first day."


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