Football

Maryland wide receiver Jacobs squares off against former teammate Broyld, Syracuse

Levern Jacobs was the wide receiver that used big ears to help him fly past opponents. Ashton Broyld was the fat quarterback that used his weight to help him truck past potential tacklers.

As teammates at Milford Academy in 2011, that’s how Broyld and Jacobs joked. They were two of the best players on a team that went 12-0, and a lot of that had to do with the bond that they had off the field.

“That’s my brother,” Broyld said. “You know we went through a lot of stuff together, spent a lot of time together, talked about a lot of stuff. We’re really close. He was one of my good friends there. I can’t wait to see him.”

On Saturday, the two friends will reunite, but the circumstances won’t be as friendly. Broyld, a New York native, will be donning Syracuse orange. Jacobs, a Maryland native, will be decked in Terrapin red.

The pair is just two years removed from one of the greatest seasons in Milford Academy history. Broyld was the starting quarterback for the team. He called on Jacobs’ number quite often, as the receiver went on to finish with eight touchdown receptions on the season — a school record.

“That team was totally 100 percent together,” said Milford head coach Bill Chaplick. “Not just the two of them, but everybody. They had one goal in mind. Not to lose a game.”

Chaplick knew the team was different in its first game against Atlanta Sports Academy. He said that team mirrored them in almost every way, but Broyld and Jacobs helped set them apart.

“When we beat them in the second half I knew that we had something special,” Chaplick said. “The will to win on both sides of the ball. On offense and defense. The two of those guys were the stars.”

Though the lasting memory of the 2011 class at Milford Academy will always be a positive one, the process to get there was one that involved a lifetime of hard work packed into a debilitating four-month season.

The academy is a one-year post-high school football program for students that either don’t qualify academically for Division I football, or didn’t get the offers they were hoping for.

Most days include waking up before dawn. Eating. Classes. Football. Lights out. It’s not a place to enjoy — it’s a place to survive.

“Our practices were nothing but straight battling,” said Dimitrius Smith, a defensive lineman and graduate of the same 2011 Milford team. “Everyone was fighting for a spot, everyone was fighting to be that guy that colleges wanted. Every day was a fight for your life.”

But amid all the long days and all of the grueling competition, Jacobs and Broyld were able to make a bond.

“We were just in the same building, same classes for four months,” Jacobs said. “When you’re a quarterback and receiver, your friendship and bond is going to be closer than other players.

“I think he’ll be one of my lifelong friends.”

They’d play video games together, talk about girls, eat and just hang out. In such a competitive environment, they’d rely on each other to help get them through the week.

“We had people that stayed in their room because it was a jungle,” Broyld said. “It was a lot of people from the inner city, thugs, whatever you want to call them. You don’t get along with everybody, there’s a select few that you do, and he was one of those guys.”

For both players, their time at Milford helped develop them into the college athletes they are today. Two weeks ago, Maryland lost its two best receivers to injuries. Jacobs responded with the best game of his career. He had eight catches for 158 yards and a touchdown.

“Being at Milford was a lot of tough games and a lot of hard-fought battles,” Jacobs said. “I’m always willing to be in a dogfight, and I’m always willing to come out on top. It helped me excel as a receiver.”

Both Jacobs and Broyld will get the chance to showcase their talents against each other for the first time when their two teams meet. Though they have an unbreakable bond, Saturday will be all business.

“He can’t wait to play us.” Broyld said. “And we can’t wait to play them.

“It’s all about the competition.”

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