If you are looking for a comeback story, look no further than Jacobbi McDaniel.
Jacobbi McDaniel never gave up. Never even thought about it, honestly.
The Florida State defensive tackle sustained a devastating leg injury in 2011, immobilizing him for more than eight months.
When he tried to come back for his senior season in 2012, he knew immediately he wasn’t his old self. Not even close. So he wound up taking a redshirt year to try to work his way back into being a legitimate Division-I defensive lineman once again.
He spent countless hours by himself, away from the team, trying to rehabilitate his leg. Hoping, working, praying.
There were dark days to be sure, days when he wondered if he’d ever wear the garnet and gold again.
But he never gave up.
“Football is my life,” McDaniel said. “If I couldn’t play football (any) more, it would be a real depressing moment.”
Now, as he competes in his final spring as a Seminole, McDaniel says he’s fully healthy, stronger than ever, and ready to make the most of his final season.
“I’ve been going to spring practice happy,” McDaniel said. “I’ve been out for almost two years, man. You can put me out there with the (fourth string). I’m just coming to play football. It doesn’t matter to me.”
And he’s playing it well, according to FSU coach Jimbo Fisher.
So well that McDaniel is going to likely lead the 2nd team defensive line. Though McDaniel wasn’t the biggest, he has always had freakish strength. Physical strength, sure, but now, more than ever, the mental strength to overcome tough injuries and setbacks.
Coming out of high school, it would have been hard to find a better defensive tackle prospect than McDaniel:
Regarded as one of the top high school players in the entire nation…ESPN and Sporting News rated him No. 5 prospect overall and No. 1 defensive tackle…a five-star prospect who earned USA Today first team All-American honors and was an Under Armour All-American…registered 22 sacks over his final two seasons at Madison County High…had 30 tackles for loss in leading his team to the 2A state title in 2007…a three-sport athlete who also played basketball and starred on the baseball diamond…batted .589 with 13 homers as a senior and was selected by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 33rd round of the 2009 Major League Baseball Draft…chose FSU over Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama and Clemson…born October 8, 1989.
And had things gone according to plan, McDaniel would be with the other members of his class fighting for a spot in the NFL. Instead, McDaniel has the unique opportunity to help this team in ways he could have never imagined. In addition to being a leader on the field, McDaniel has the chance to help the younger Seminoles off the field and in the locker room. McDaniel’s story should show the underclassmen that no matter what trials you go through, just keep fighting.