DALLAS – When he arrived near the end of Ohio State's media day session on Saturday, Jacob Jarvis became the most popular person in the area, at least among the Buckeyes. While reporters still huddled around Ohio State coach Urban Meyer, quarterback Cardale Jones and others, Jarvis got hellos and fist bumps from numerous Ohio State players as soon as his presence was noticed.
Jarvis, 15, and his brother, Noah Studebaker, 7, have Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a genetic disorder that involves progressive muscle degeneration and weakness. Jacob befriended Meyer during a Friday night football camp for high school players in July of 2013, and a bond formed as Meyer taught him the finer points of throwing a spiral and chatted with him throughout the evening. The moment quickly became more than a simple teaching one.
Meyer extended an open invite to Jarvis and his family to attend Ohio State practices, which they now regularly do in adddition to attending all Ohio State home games. And as they've become fixtures at Ohio State football events, the team has embraced them.
The two were chosen to be honorary captains for Ohio State's game against Cincinnati in October, which was played on Coach to Cure MD weekend. Jacob and Noah went out on the field with Ohio State's captains for the coin toss as Jacob held the hand of his favorite player and friend, Ohio State TE Jeff Heuerman.
Neither the coin toss or the Ohio State win was the biggest part of the game, however. After the game, Jacob Heuerman gave Jacob and family a game ball.
"I was trying not to cry," Jacob's stepfather Chad Studebaker said. "It was just a very emotional stage. Just, our family facing the whole team and I didn't see too many dry eyes among the players. That was a very emotional event."
"Jeff even said it, he couldn't sleep the two nights before. It was a wonderful event, meant a lot to us. Jeff's become a good close friend. Josh Perry's become a good close friend of ours. It's just been a wonderful journey and it continues to go."
Perry, who went to the same middle school as Jacob, went to his birthday party earlier in the season. Heuerman consults with Jacob before every coin toss to see what he should call. (Always tails, Jacob told the Columbus Dispatch)
As Ohio State has progressed through the Big Ten championship and the Sugar Bowl and now Monday's national championship game against Oregon, the moment after the Cincinnati game has been eclipsed. When asked what his favorite moment from the season was, Jacob had no hesitation.
"This game," he said, after making plans with a table full of Ohio State players to join them in the game room at their hotel.
"Urban has just invited him into his family," Chad Studebaker said. "That family has accepted Jake and turned him into part of the family. I don't know how else to describe it. It's pretty wonderful."
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