U of I Football Player Up for a Challenge
Jacob Sannon finds academic home in College of Business and Economics and is working toward his Master of Accountancy.
Jacob Sannon never pictured himself earning a master’s degree.
Now, not only is the Bradenton, Florida, native the first in his family to graduate from college, he’s pursuing his master’s degree in accounting. One day, he hopes to become a certified public accountant — but only after he enters the 2019 NFL draft.
“I have a lot of pride in being a role model to my family and friends back home,” said Sannon, a wide receiver for the University of Idaho’s Vandal football team. “Growing up with a single mom — she has five kids, what are the chances she’s going to be able to pay for all of her kids to go to college? It was a goal of mine to find my own way to get to college without the help of my mom financially.”
Sannon graduated with his bachelor’s in accounting in spring 2017, and is now working toward his master’s. He served as a captain of the 2016 football team and received the 2016 Idaho Potato Bowl Humanitarian Award for his community service as a member of the U of I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. He also earned the W.J. Wilde award, a scholarship given to a graduating senior entering the Master of Accountancy program who has high levels of personal and professional conduct.
In December 2017, he was named to the 2017 Football Academic All-America First Team by the College Sports Information Directors of America. He is the third student-athlete in school history to earn first-team academic honors and the first since 1973.
Sannon started 10 games for the Vandals in the 2017 season. The wide receiver ranked second on the team in catches, with a career-high 59, and yards with another career-high of 608. He earned double-digit receptions in two games and finished his career at No. 13 in school history for catches, with 125.
During Idaho’s resounding win at the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in December 2016, Sannon grabbed two touchdown catches, finishing the season with 23 catches for 303 yards.
“Last semester, I had a lot of masters students in my classes,” he said. “I saw how social they were and how much knowledge they had and I thought, ‘I want to be like them one day.’”
A New Challenge
Sannon struggled for most of his life with academics. But after being placed in an advanced math class in high school, he realized he had better math skills than he thought. But as he started his journey at U of I, Sannon was a general education major. An internet search helped him find his academic home.
“I ended up going online and typing in some qualities that I have and accounting popped up,” he said.
He consulted an advisor, changed his major and took his first accounting class his sophomore year.
Sannon found a second family and a new challenge studying accounting in the College of Business & Economics.
“I just enjoyed how much learning I did,” he said. “With accounting, you learn about all aspects of business. It was new to me and I liked the challenge of learning a new thing.”
Sannon said he appreciated the small classes in the accounting department.
“I see the same faces in most of my classes and I enjoy getting to know my other classmates,” he said. “They actually came to the spring game. It was a group of accounting students that came to support me and I definitely enjoy that.”
Setting an Example
K.D. Hatheway-Dial, an instructor in the accounting program, said Sannon is quiet, but when he speaks, people listen.
“I don’t know where he will end up — with an accounting degree, his options are unlimited. It’s very common for accountants to rise to the level of CEO. With his leadership skills, he could easily move into a corporate position like that,” she said.
Football coach Paul Petrino said Sannon is a mentor and example for the rest of the football team.
“He’s always been a great young man,” he said. “There’s no harder worker. I tell the young guys, ‘Try to be like him. See what his study habits are. See how he manages his time. How he’s the one who doesn’t have study hall but is in there all the time.’ There’s no better role model around than him.”
Sannon has already had several job interviews with top accounting firms.
“I feel like Career Services and the business department collaborate pretty well to get recruiters here, especially in accounting,” he said. “I feel like they definitely set me up to move on to my future and actually work for a big firm. Even if I don’t get picked up by a team, I know that I’ll have a job ready for me,” he said.
- Article by Tess Fox, University Communications & Marketing