While offensive players often get the headlines, the SCV has been producing top defensive athletes that have succeeded at the professional level for years.
Add Golden Valley alumnus Leon Jacobs to that list.
After being drafted in the seventh round with the No. 230 overall pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars, the 22-year-old former Grizzly and Wisconsin Badger was named a starter to begin the season. Jacobs was the only rookie named as a starter for the Jaguars’ defense this year, a unit that ranked second in total defense last season.
“It’s very impressive and we are so proud of him and his accomplishments,” said Robert Fisher, Jacobs’ former coach at Golden Valley. “He set a goal to make it to the NFL. That’s definitely one accomplishment. Now to be a starter so quick in his short career, it’s just awesome.”
Jacobs started at strongside linebacker in the Jaguars’ 20-15 win over the New York Giants this past Sunday, logging two tackles (one solo) while also playing on special teams.
“He’s an aggressive, very physical player. On top of that he’s got speed and the ability to run people down,” Fisher said. “I think he can make an immediate impact. He’s a team player. He’ll sacrifice his body for his teammates and get the plays done.”
The 6-foot-2 bruiser played in only 11 defensive snaps before leaving the game early with an ankle injury. He was seen in a walking boot at the team facility on Monday.
According to multiple reports, Jacobs was out of the walking boot and a full participant in practice on Wednesday. He is expected to start this Sunday against the New England Patriots.
Here’s a look at more of the SCV football products who are currently playing in the NFL, including a couple of offensive players as well:
Domata Peko, Denver Broncos (COC)
Peko is entering his second year as a member of the Denver Broncos after spending his first 11 seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals.
In 14 games last year, Peko accumulated 24 tackles, the most he’s had since 2014. He also added a sack and a fumble recovery.
In the Broncos’ 27-24 victory over the Seattle Seahawks to begin the 2018 campaign, Peko recorded two assisted tackles on 25 snaps; roughly 44 percent of the total defensive snaps. He was also on the field for six special teams plays.
Jason Pierre-Paul, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (COC)
Once a staple of the New York Giants 2011 Super Bowl winning defense, Pierre-Paul was traded to the Buccaneers at the beginning of the year, ending his eight-year tenure in the Big Apple.
The 6-foot-5 defensive end played 48 of 64 defensive snaps in his first game with Buccaneers as they defeated the New Orleans Saints 48-40. He did not record a single tackle, as his lone takedown was wiped away after an offensive holding penalty was called.
Pierre-Paul injured his knee after the first quarter and was seen wearing a brace at practice according to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. He is questionable for the game against the Philadelphia Eagles this Sunday.
“My knee is jacked up. Banged up,” Pierre-Paul said to Stroud. “Ask me if I can play Sunday, I don’t know.”
Tedric Thompson, Seattle Seahawks (Valencia)
While he only played a total of eight defensive snaps in nine games last year, Thompson delivered on special teams, recording two fumble recoveries.
He was expected to take on a larger role this season as the Seahawks’ starting safety, but the last-minute return of Earl Thomas relegated Thompson to a reserve role.
In Seattle’s season-opener against Denver, Thompson recorded four tackles (three solo) in 10 defensive snaps, about 14 percent of the total defensive plays that were run. He was also on the field for 16 special teams snaps.
Shane Vereen, Free Agent (Valencia)
After recording 253 receiving yards and 164 rushing yards in 16 games for the Giants last season, Vereen signed with the New Orleans Saints in the offseason.
In four preseason games with the Saints, Vereen had seven rushes for 22 yards and nine receptions for 41 yards.
In a bizarre turn of events, Vereen was placed on injured reserve a few days before the start of the season with an undisclosed injury to his right hand.
He was released less than a week later after agreeing to an injury settlement.
Vereen is eligible to sign with any other team this season and could be a useful midseason addition to a team in need of running back depth.
Tim White, Ravens (Hart, COC)
While he didn’t make the 53-man roster, White is still a part of the Ravens organization as a member of the 10-man practice squad.
With the practice squad, White is eligible to train with other players on the roster during the week, but cannot be activated for game day. The wide receiver and return specialist can be signed to another team’s active roster or be promoted within the Ravens if they release a player or place a player on injured reserve.