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Published: Monday, 5/1/2006

Jacobs goes to Steelers for a MAC QB reunion

Jacobs Jacobs

Omar Jacobs' next stop, Pittsburgh, has suddenly become the friendly confines of Mid-American Conference quarterbacks.

The Super Bowl champion Steelers selected Jacobs in the fifth round of the NFL draft yesterday, with the 164th overall pick. Jacobs, quarterback the past two seasons for Bowling Green State University, will join two other MAC quarterbacks on the roster: Miami's Ben Roethlisberger and Eastern Michigan's Charlie Batch.

Going to the Steelers surprised Jacobs, because he hadn't talked to Steelers coach Bill Cowher before his phone call congratulating Jacobs yesterday afternoon. But he feels lucky to join the defending Super Bowl champs.

"That's not too shabby," Jacobs joked.

Jacobs watched the draft with his mom and girlfriend from his home in Delray Beach, Fla. As the ninth quarterback selected in the draft, he had a long wait.

"I was surprised because I thought I would go higher, but that's part of the draft process," Jacobs said. "It's all based on team needs."

With Roethlisberger the face of the franchise, the most the Steelers are looking for is a competition for the backup spot.

That's not quite what Jacobs envisioned when he gave up his senior season at BGSU to enter the draft.

With his famed sophomore season of 41 touchdowns and four interceptions, Jacobs entered the 2005 season as one of the top pro prospects. But because of a shoulder injury and lesser numbers, he slipped down the draft board throughout the year. In December the NFL advisory board gave Jacobs a fourth-round prediction.

Jacobs' agent, Joby Branion, said the Steelers are a good fit for Jacobs because it will give him a chance to develop what some saw as raw fundamentals.

"He's a bright enough guy to know that this isn't about the draft, this is about an NFL career," Branion said.

Said Jacobs: "I think I have to be patient to some degree, and I want to be patient in Pittsburgh."

The Steelers like his size (6-foot-4, 232 pounds), and Pittsburgh quarterbacks coach Mark Whipple said he won't change Jacobs' unorthodox throwing motion.

"You just ask, 'Does he throw a tight spiral?' " Whipple said. "I think in Pittsburgh, New England and the Northeast, that says something. He did."

Jacobs sees his skills adapting well to the Steelers' offense.

"They stretch the ball down the field and do a lot of things with Ben Roethlisberger," Jacobs said. "I think they can do the same with me."

Although Whipple kidded he will tire of hearing MAC updates in the meeting room, he said he's excited to have another quarterback from the league on board.

"There's good players coming out of that conference in the quarterback position, with statistics and winning games," Whipple said. "Just look at the success that they've had."

Contact Maureen Fulton at: mfulton@theblade.com or 419-724-6160.

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