You have to be very competitive. It's everybody's livelihood now. At the end of the day, it's football and I've been doing it my whole life. It's the next level. I'm just grateful for the opportunity. —McKay Jacobson
PROVO — Looking fast, healthy and comfortable, wide receiver McKay Jacobson ran a variety of routes, and caught an array of passes from former BYU teammate Max Hall, during BYU's pro day in late March.
"It was really good to throw with him," Jacobson recalled this week. "It had been a couple of years since we'd played together. I was happy that he was there."
The NFL scouts looking on that day apparently took notice.
Not long after pro day, former vice president of player personnel for the Dallas Cowboys, Gil Brandt, who serves as a draft analyst for the NFL.com, made a bold assessment.
"Jacobson has the chance to be a very good pro player," Brandt wrote.
Those words buoyed Jacobson, who caught 113 passes for 1,836 yards and nine touchdowns during his Cougar career.
"It's definitely good to get some good feedback," he said. "I knew (Brandt) was with the Cowboys for many years. It was a very cool thing to read that and feel like my hard work would pay off and that I would get an opportunity."
The former BYU wideout will soon embark on his NFL career and try to prove Brandt right. Jacobson signed an undrafted free agent contract with the Philadelphia Eagles over the weekend, and will depart for the City of Brotherly Love on May 11 for rookie camp.
"I'm definitely ready for the next chapter in my life. I feel grateful that I get to play with such a great organization like Philadelphia," he said. "For me, like all of the new guys, you're fighting for position for playing time and making the active roster. You have to be very competitive. It's everybody's livelihood now. At the end of the day, it's football and I've been doing it my whole life. It's the next level. I'm just grateful for the opportunity."
The Eagles weren't the only team interested in Jacobson's services.
"My agent told me he was in contact with a few teams. It came down to the (New York) Jets or Philadelphia," he said. "I did some background research on some teams and thought about teams I wanted to go for if I got the chance. I felt really good about Philadelphia and decided to go with them."
Over the years, BYU and Philadelphia have forged quite a connection. Longtime Eagle coach Andy Reid played for the Cougars, and several former BYU players have worn the green and white, including Vai Sikahema, Chad Lewis, Reno Mahe and Justin Ena. Former Cougar offensive lineman Dallas Reynolds is currently on the Eagles' roster, having spent last season on the practice squad.
Mahe called Jacobson on Sunday to congratulate him.
"It's definitely cool to know people who have played there," Jacobson said. "I've always been impressed with coach Reid. He came and spoke at one of our (BYU) football banquets. My high school quarterback (Chase Daniel) played with (Eagle wide receiver) Jeremy Maclin at Missouri. (Receiver) DeSean Jackson was a year older than me in the recruiting process. You hear about and follow people being a fan of the game. I'm excited to learn from the guys who have been there. It will be fun playing with (quarterback) Michael Vick. It's been a childhood dream to play in the NFL. I'm going to go make it happen."
What does Jacobson see as his role in Philly?
"I think being versatile and being able to help out with special teams in the return game and offensively playing inside and outside receiver," he said. "In high school, I played a lot of slot receiver. In college, I played mostly outside. So really, being versatile is important. It's about making the most of your opportunity."
Jacobson was glad to see a few of his former teammates — Matt Reynolds (Carolina), Terence Brown (Miami) and Hebron Fangupo (Houston) — also sign as undrafted free agents over the weekend.
"I'm happy for those guys. Coach (Bronco) Mendenhall called me (Monday), wishing me good luck and everything. It's nice to still feel part of BYU and see your teammates do well and feel that support from teammates and coaches."
Jacobson and his wife, Kimberly, are looking forward to the new challenges that await.
"My wife's always been very supportive," he said. "Like I said, it's the next chapter in our lives. We're ready to get going on it. It will be a lot of hard work, but it should be fun."