The quirky throwing motion--a quick, sometimes sidearm release--originated on the dusty Little League diamonds of Delray Beach, Fla. At age nine Omar Jacobs couldn't play peewee football because he was above the maximum weight, so he focused on pitching. "I threw sidearm back then," Jacobs recalls. "I had a nice little slider that looked like it was going to hit you, but it came back over the plate. I always hit my spots." Twelve years later Jacobs, Bowling Green's junior quarterback, still has that sidearm action and still hits his spots, so much so that he's become one of the most prolific passers in college.
Nicknamed Cruise Control for his easygoing off-the-field manner, Jacobs went into overdrive last season in his first year as a starter. He led the nation with 41 touchdown passes and ranked third in passing yards, with 4,002, while throwing just four interceptions in a spread offense that ranked second in the country in total yards (506.3 per game). So how does a quarterback throw 462 passes but only four picks? "Being smart," Jacobs answers. "Just throw the ball out-of-bounds [if no receiver is open] and come back for the next down. Live to fight another day."
Jacobs's smarts are only one reason why he's sure to attract the interest of the NFL. He has size (6'4", 224), decent mobility (300 rushing yards in 2004) and that gifted, if unorthodox, arm. "He can make all the throws," says coach Gregg Brandon. "The deep throw, the touch ball, the throw off-balance under pressure, the throw on the move--he's the total package."
Jacobs says going pro after the season is a possibility, but he's focused on helping the Falcons win their first MAC title since 1992. The offense--with senior running back P.J. Pope plus senior receivers Charles Sharon and Steve Sanders--could be the nation's most productive. "We're doing a lot of pretty things with stats, but we're not winning championships," Jacobs says. "We have to win a championship this year to accomplish our goal." --G.M.