As Maryland football defensive back Antoine Brooks recovered from an ankle fracture that ended his DuVal High School career in 2015, he reached out to Taivon Jacobs.
Brooks knew Jacobs would understand the difficulty of bouncing back from a serious leg injury. The wide receiver had endured two season-ending ACL tears, limiting him to 13 games through his first four years in College Park.
Jacobs told Brooks what he'd expressed to himself countless times: "Just keep going. You can do what you've got to do and be what you got to be."
That advice helped Brooks recover for a breakout season this year, while Brooks said Maryland has rallied around Jacobs' latest return.
After regaining strength in his damaged knees, Jacobs has played in all 10 games this season, hauling in 40 catches for 482 yards and five touchdowns. The redshirt senior set career highs in receptions the past two games with seven catches against Rutgers and eight against Michigan.
"His experience isn't equal to what [it should be], just because of injuries he's had," coach DJ Durkin said. "He's almost like a freshman or redshirt freshman that you can see having that much growth and development throughout a season."
Coming out of Suitland High School, Jacobs was revered for his speed and ability to make plays down the field. He originally committed to Ohio State before signing with Maryland.
Knee injuries threatened to sap his quickness.
But last summer, running back Ty Johnson noticed Jacobs bursting ahead of teammates during speed drills. Johnson led the country in yards per carry last season and is considered one of the fastest players in the Big Ten, so he joked with Jacobs as he tried to keep up with him.
"I'm gonna get you," Johnson remembers telling Jacobs. "You've got to keep going if I'm catching up to you."
While Jacobs began the season healthy for the first time since 2015, fellow wide receiver DJ Moore garnered more attention. Moore leads the conference in receiving yards (857) and is tied for the most receiving touchdowns (eight).
Opponents began double-teaming Moore midway through this season, giving Jacobs open space down the field. So Jacobs told coaches the Terps could enhance their offense by calling more plays for him.
"I worked my butt off all summer and spring to put myself in this situation," Jacobs said to the coaches. "So just trust me and let me go make a play."
They listened, and Jacobs has responded with 24 catches for 299 yards and four touchdowns over the past five weeks. Johnson said that's opened up the field, as teams can no longer place all of their attention on Moore.
Jacobs said he's more confident than he's ever been in his five-year Maryland career.
He has two more opportunities to prove his skill level. Maryland finishes its season against the Spartans and No. 13 Penn State.
In those games, Jacobs hopes to replicate the production of the touted receivers he's played with at Maryland, including Moore, Stefon Diggs and Deon Long. His older brother, Levern Jacobs, racked up more than 1,500 career receiving yards with the Terps.
Taivon Jacobs has enjoyed matching the intensity of those players since arriving in College Park. But he's also driven to emerge from their shadows and make a name for himself despite the injuries he's endured.
Brooks said that motivation is what makes Jacobs so difficult to defend.
"He's just got that 'oomph' to him," Brooks said. "He's always talking trash or he's always trying to be up one on everybody else."