Why 4-star linebacker Jestin Jacobs ultimately stuck with Iowa over Ohio State

Chad Leistikow
Hawk Central

IOWA CITY, Ia. — Before his high school games at Northmont High School in western Ohio, Jestin Jacobs would watch highlights of Josey Jewell to get fired up. Now, he hopes to emulate Iowa’s former consensus all-American.

Jacobs, a four-star linebacker according to 247 Sports, officially became the crown jewel of the Hawkeyes’ 2019 recruiting class when he signed his national letter of intent with Iowa on Wednesday morning.

Jacobs (6-foot-4, 210 pounds) said Iowa coaches have said he could play any of their three linebacker positions. He played outside in high school, but he’d love to play in the middle — where Jewell starred as a three-year starter from 2015 to 2017 with a tenacious edge.

Jestin Jacobs is Iowa's Class of 2019 U.S. Army All-American, following A.J. Epenesa and Tristan Wirfs in the Class of 2017; and Tyler Linderbaum in the Class of 2018.

“People could run away from me in high school because I was on the outside,” Jacobs said late Tuesday night in an interview with the Register. “In the middle, you can get both sides.”

Jacobs’ recruitment has captured headlines for the past few months, and not only because he’s Iowa’s lone U.S. Army All-American in this class. It was in early October — five months after making his Iowa commitment — when his in-state dream school, Ohio State, came through with a scholarship offer.

“It was huge,” said Jacobs, who grew up in Clayton, which is about an hour west of Columbus. “Before I started the process, that was how I measured some of my success — a big offer like that.”

Once he tweeted the offer, he said he heard almost right away from Iowa linebackers coach Seth Wallace, recruiting coordinator Kelvin Bell and director of recruiting Tyler Barnes. Jacobs informed them he wanted to take a visit to Ohio State.

Iowa’s precedent in these situations was to adhere to its no-visiting-other-schools policy for its commitments. But Jacobs said there was never any threats made by Iowa to pull the offer.

“They told me to make the best decision for me, but they didn’t really apply a lot of pressure,” Jacobs said. “I think they were just confident in the way they recruited me and confident in their relationship.”

Jacobs wound up visiting Ohio State the weekend of the Buckeyes' defining home win against Michigan and called it a “once-in-a-lifetime experience.” But ultimately, he remembered the closeness he felt in Iowa City, and he told the Register he thought the Kinnick Stadium crowd during his Sept. 22 visit for the Wisconsin game was more impressive than what he experienced at Ohio Stadium.

And recently, he informed Iowa coaches he would be sticking with the original plan: That he would be a Hawkeye, and that he will enroll at Iowa on Jan. 10.

He can’t wait to get to work with strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle. By arriving early, he’ll get to participate in spring practices and compete at a deep position filled with opportunity at Iowa. Middle linebacker Jack Hockaday will play his final game Jan. 1 in the Outback Bowl.

“I believe my potential is through the roof. (Coaches) told me that it is,” Jacobs said. “I just want to keep my head down and just grind and be the best I can be. I want to contribute right away.”

Check back at HawkCentral.com and read Thursday's Des Moines Register for a column on what Jacobs' decision means to the Hawkeye program.