Jacobs: 'Lay it on the field'

ATHENS, Ga. -- Most members of Georgia's 2011 football team didn't know the David Jacobs story until he addressed the team before a game against Mississippi State in October.

But when Jacobs told the players about his promising Georgia football career ending because of a stroke suffered after practice on Nov. 14, 2001, he found an attentive audience.

"He captivated them, and he got their attention," said defensive line coach Rodney Garner, who was Jacobs' position coach at Georgia. "He had them, and he did an awesome job. He could definitely be a great motivational speaker."

Now, before games, nose guard John Jenkins often watches a motivational video Jacobs played for the team, and he watches it most nights before he goes to bed.

"A lot of athletes in any sport take their opportunity for granted. They feel like they're entitled to certain things," Jenkins said. "When he came through and I heard his story about having a stroke, that hit me. We take a lot of stuff for granted, and we feel like we're entitled to certain things, even if we feel like we do everything right. But at the end of the day, you're not entitled to anything."

The message in the video and of Jacobs' pregame talk? Give everything you have to achieve your goals, because you can't control how much time you will have to succeed.

"I feel like I went out with a bang. I feel like I went out and left it all on the football field," Jacobs said. "I was just telling them, 'You never know what's going to happen tomorrow. You never know, but all you can do is take care of what's going to happen today. Just lay it on the field.' "

Taking advantage of every opportunity is a recurring theme in the Jacobs household.

Desiree Jacobs -- David's wife, who was his girlfriend at the time of the stroke -- admits that she is more apt to put off certain duties at times, but that is not how her husband is wired.

"It really keeps us balanced in just knowing that God had his finger on David to get him through that and really keeping in his heart the purpose of everything and how fragile life is," she said. "You never know from day to day, second to second, what could happen. Knowing that and living day to day like it could be your last, whatever you do -- David really does that."

He also takes some ownership in Georgia's 7-0 record since he addressed the team.

"I feel like I'm a part of that," he said with a hearty laugh.

Jacobs is a part of more than just the Bulldogs' winning streak and the award Georgia's coaches present to a player annually in his honor.

Because of an optimistic spirit and the resilience he showed in bouncing back from a catastrophic injury that nearly stole his life, he continues to inspire those who helped him recover to enjoy a happy and healthy life after football.

"When you come here to Georgia, I obviously want them to be great football players. But if that's the only thing we do, we shortchanged them," said Ron Courson, Georgia's director of sports medicine and an integral player in Jacobs' treatment after the stroke.

"We wanted him to be a great young man, to get his degree, to be a good father, a good husband -- and to see him achieve all those things now, despite all the obstacles that he had, that's just one of the great stories that I've seen here."

David Ching covers University of Georgia sports for DawgNation. He can be reached at davidchingespn@gmail.com.