In a scrimmage on Sept. 3, Woodberry Forrest (Va.) School junior QB Jacob Rainey took a hit that shattered his right knee and severed an artery. The leg had to be amputated above the knee. The injury almost surely ended the playing career of the highly touted Jacob—whose athleticism and playmaking had drawn looks from ACC schools and earned him the nickname Tebow—but he still made an impact this season.
He returned to school in November and has strived to put his classmates at ease by talking and joking about his amputation. "I could feel sorry for myself," he says, "but that's just pointless." Instead, he has busied himself learning to walk on his new prosthetic and hitting the weight room with teammates.
Jacob's grace has touched football folk far beyond Virginia. Nick Saban, Clay Matthews and Bart Starr sent him jerseys or letters of encouragement. Neil Parry, a former San Jose State safety who lost part of his right leg to a similar injury in 2000 and came back to play, contacted him. And on Christmas Eve, Tim Tebow flew his namesake to Buffalo for the Broncos' game against the Bills (above).
"It was great meeting him," says Jacob of Tebow. "He speaks with his words, but he also speaks with his actions by helping others."
DEREK GEE/AP (RAINEY)