A Special Place

By Jacobi Francis

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This series is brought to you by United Dairy Industry of Michigan.

Being a Memphis Tiger is special.

I could sense that from the first moment I talked to Coach Fuentes after a satellite camp back in my high school days.

I still remember him pulling me to the side after the camp and expressing his desire to have me join the Tigers.

That was the first time a D1 school showed interest in me. I never forgot that. I got other offers and visited other schools throughout my recruiting process, but Memphis was always on my mind.

And when it was time to commit, my choice was clear.

Memphis all the way.

Memphis equals family

Ever since I stepped foot on campus, the Memphis community has had my back. The coaches, the teachers, my teammates—everyone wanted to make sure I had a good transition.

Especially the bond you instantly build with your recruiting class is special. You all go through the same challenges. It’s hard to replicate that, you know?

These relationships and these moments create a connection that can be seen whenever we step on the field. It helps us communicate, gives us chemistry, and, ultimately, wins us games.


Growing pains

Despite the camaraderie and the excellent support system at Memphis, I still had some growing pains. 

Most notably, for the first time in my life, I wasn’t the top dog; I wasn’t the first option. I was on the bench. 

It was a challenging, humbling experience to go from being the man to just being a man — just another guy on the roster, you know? 

During this time, Coach pulled me to the side and told me to “stay ready.” 

That my moment would come and how I prepared in the meantime would dictate whether I took advantage of that opportunity or squandered it away. 

And then, my moment came. Against UCLA.

The game was huge. UCLA was a top 25 team at the time, and we were trying to show we belonged. And that’s exactly what we did.

Not only was it special because it was my first game in a Memphis uniform, but I also made the game-sealing play when I broke up a fourth-down pass in the closing seconds of the game. 

It was an incredible feeling. 

From then on out, my confidence only grew. I knew I could play at this level and got to show it during a big game. 

I worked all my life for a moment like this. 

This was important, you know?

Becoming a DB

Getting there wasn’t easy, though. By no means.

As a kid, I switched from offense to defense, and in college, I went from the inside slot to playing the corner. Changing positions is one thing but every transition comes with new challenges and questions. All I could do was trust the process and my coaches. And so I did.

Those adjustments really helped me mentally as well. I was introduced to various perspectives early on and had a different appreciation for the game. Without a doubt, this made me a better football player.

And when I had the chance to fully hone in on my DB position, I think the results spoke for themselves. In 2019, in particular, it all really started to pay off.

For myself. For the team. For Memphis.

Ever since I stepped foot on campus, the Memphis community has had my back. The coaches, the teachers, my teammates—everyone wanted to make sure I had a good transition.

My last games

Now, I’m in my final year of college football.

We have a young team that’s hungry. And I love that.

But we have to be patient. These things take time. I have been in their shoes before and know what they’re going through.

If we continue to put our best foot forward, good things will happen. No doubt!

Either way, I’m going to soak it all in and enjoy my final moments on the field as a Tiger before I take the next step in my career.

I may only have a few games left, but believe me, I’m going to make every second count.

Memphis for life!