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Familiar path
Jacobs one of many Panther two-sport stars

LILBURN - Brandon Jacobs is hardly the first high-profile multi-sport star to come through Parkview's athletic program.

One thing Jacobs has the others did not, however, is the experience of his predecessors from which to learn how to deal with what is sure to be a hectic school year.

Whether the 6-foot-1, 230-pound senior winds up taking his skills to the next level in football - in which he has already given a verbal commitment to Auburn as one of Gwinnett's top returning rushers from a year ago - or baseball - in which he is a top prospect for next year's Major League draft - is still up in the air.

What is known, however, is that whatever decision he has to make, it will be an informed one, just like his predecessors.

"(Current Atlanta Braves outfielder) Jeff Francoeur had to do it," Parkview football coach Cecil Flowe said. "(Francoeur's Braves teammate) Clint Sammons did it. (Braves farmhand) Tim Gustafson, too. It was all the same thing, and they all came through in good shape.

"What (Jacobs') plans are remains to be seen, but he's doing a good job for us (for the Panther football team in preseason practice) so far."

Jacobs hopes to continue that good work into his senior season with the Panthers. He knows the best way to do that is to keep his decision about his athletic future - and any comparisons to former Parkview multi-sport greats - from becoming a distraction.

"It's an honor to be compared to guys like that," Jacobs said.

"The process they went through was tough, and I'll probably have to go through that, too."

To that end, Jacobs figures one of the best assets he has is Flowe.

While he hasn't talked to any of his predecessors on how they handled their situations, he knows he can go to his coach, who gave each advice - along with then Panthers baseball coach Hugh Buchanan - on coming up with criteria to make their respective decisions.

"I know that whatever he tells me (about the process), it's true," Jacobs said of Flowe. "He's been through it with several guys before. So, he knows what he's talking about. So does (Parkview baseball) Coach (Chan) Brown.

"Me and my parents have talked a lot, too. It's going to be a hard decision, but I'm going to do what I think is right."

While Flowe definitely hopes to guide Jacobs through what figures to be a difficult decision process, he also knows from his experience with past players it is not a "one-size-fits-all" situation.

"I just try to stay neutral and give the positives and negatives to each (sport), and Coach Brown will be involved the same way," Flowe said. "With Jeff (Francoeur), he got his college situation taken care of, and with the baseball, his father kind of worked as his agent early on.

"In the end, (Jacobs) has to make the choice. He's got the ability to make his mark on both sports. ... But right now, he's got to concentrate on football."

Jacobs said considering how his choices may be pulling him in different directions, focusing on just football for now is a blessing, even during what is normally a long, difficult process of preseason practice.

"Right now, it's a relief just to know exactly what I'm doing every day. Not that practice is easy, but at least it gives me a break from everything else."

SideBar: The Jacobs File

· Who: Brandon Jacobs

· School: Parkview

· Class: Senior

· Size: 6-foot-2, 230 pounds

· College choice: Auburn

· Other Division I-A offers: Alabama-Birmingham, Central Florida, Wake Forest, others

· Noteworthy:

· Finished fifth among all Gwinnett running backs in yards per game (88.1) despite missing one game and being hobbled by an ankle injury last year. Was also the Panthers' second-leading tackler with 62 combined stops.

· Also a highly-rated baseball prospect. Was named to the Daily Post's first-team All-County, and hit .471 with 3 home runs and 12 RBIs for Team Georgia at the Junior Sunbelt Classic in Oklahoma this summer. Was also invited to the East Coast Showcast, sponsored by Major League Baseball.

· On the simiarlities of his future choices to that of former Parkview two-sport stars: "It's an honor to be compared to guys like that. The process they went through was tough, and I'll probably have to go through that, too."

· Coach Cecil Flowe's comment: "He's got the ability to make his mark on both sports."