Talented recruits can often get the cold shoulder from their new teammates, and not just as a part of hazing incidents. It should be no surprise that worries of losing a starting job to a hot new recruit may arise among some of the older players. The best wide receiver in the state of Texas with 19 touchdowns, 1,673 yards, 99 receptions, two state championships and two national number one rankings to his name could easily end up as an object of scorn for insecure upperclassmen. That scenario never materialized for McKay Jacobson, however. In fact, Cougar receiver Bryce Mahuika has taken the 2005 Texas Wide Receiver of the Year under his wing.
“Well first of all, it all started out with me being in his workout group,” said Jacobson. “[Mahuika] has really helped me out a lot here throughout the off-season. He helped me out with my weight lifting form and obviously weight lifting in college is much different than lifting in high school. Then we will watch film and we’ll help each other out with the little things. Even earlier, when we started throwing just a couple of weeks before spring ball he helped with certain plays, and that’s been a really big help.”
Mahuika took Jacobson and showed him the ropes. In the weight room, he taught him a few tips that have since yielded improved results.
“I think sometimes in regards to the weight lifting there are things you can help them out with in their form,” said Mahuika. “You can help them with a few extra pounds on their squat, lift or clean. From the first day he got here, McKay has developed his lifting better in regards to his technique and form, and therefore his strength has gone up.
“Then out here on the field, there are little changes such as the ball coming at you quicker and the DBs are quicker and so there are little tips you can give the new guys to help them beat the DBs. He’s definitely been doing good out there.”
With news of Jacobson’s stats and achievements preceding him, his future teammates were not sure what to expect.
“My first impression was I thought he was going to be some 6-5 big ole Texan coming in after winning a state championship, and then I saw McKay and I was like, ‘Oh, okay.’” said Mahuika with a laugh. “I think the biggest thing coming from high school is bringing in talent and letting the coaches and everyone work with you. If you have talent and you’re humble enough to want to learn, and I think McKay definitely has those two qualities, you will do well.”
Jacobson looks no different from the other receivers in terms of his knowledge of the offense. He is quick to point out that any perceived proficiency is due to guidance from the team’s veterans.
“Each one of them out there from the beginning when we first started throwing in the off-season has helped me,” said Jacobson. “I wasn’t quite sure what to do on some specific plays and I obviously know the plays now, but some of the plays would be different routes depending on some of the coverages. They would help me out in knowing what do to with this and that play and how to know the differences.”
Last week, Jacobson and Mahuika stayed after practice and worked on receiving technique. Both would trade off and try to defend against a comeback route. Wendell Beck, father of BYU receiver John Beck, stayed after practice and fed the balls through the jugs machine for the receivers.
“I think it’s helped me out already,” said Jacobson. “We’ve been doing this for a couple of days now and its fun to catch a few balls after practice and stuff. I need to work on my hands and I’ve been working on that by doing repetitions.”
Still less than four weeks removed from Texas, Jacobson has not had a chance to pick up a new Cougar tradition that has quickly become a fan favorite. Last season, Mahuika, whose father was a chief in the Ngati Poru tribe of New Zealand, taught the team the Ka Mate Haka, which they now perform just before kickoff. Jacobson is aware of the pregame ritual and is eager to participate himself.
“We were just talking about that and he said he really wants to learn it so I’m going to show him how to do it,” said Mahuika.
“Oh yes sir,” said Jacobson with a smile. “I’d like to learn it. It’ll be fun to do”