Jacob Lichtenstein back in South Florida, ready to leave his mark at UM

Sixth-year defensive lineman Jacob Lichtenstein celebrates with fourth-year linebacker Avery Huff during Miami's Spring Game DRV PNK Stadium on April 16, 2022.
Sixth-year defensive lineman Jacob Lichtenstein celebrates with fourth-year linebacker Avery Huff during Miami's Spring Game at DRV PNK Stadium on April 16, 2022. Photo credit: Miami Athletics

2,741 miles.

That is the distance from the University of Miami to transfer defensive lineman Jacob Lichtenstein’s previous school, the University of Southern California. A cross-country flight from UM to USC would take about five hours. Those who wish to take a more scenic route by car are looking at around a 40-hour trip.

For Lichtenstein, this long move was worth it to play in front of friends and family.

“Being in California, at USC, my family [and] all my resources, I didn’t have them,” Lichtenstein said. “Being back here, just having that support system and having all those connections that I have down here, it’s great, and it’s making all the difference.”

Lichtenstein grew up only a short car ride away from Miami’s campus in nearby Weston, Fla. The 6-foot-5 defender enjoyed an illustrious amateur career at Cypress Bay High School. He was honored as an All-State Class 8A second-team member as a senior.

While Miami was not heavily involved in Lichtenstein’s initial college recruitment, UM head coach Mario Cristobal was, as he was Alabama’s offensive line coach and recruiting coordinator at the time.

“I’ve had a connection with Coach Cristobal since 2016. He recruited me to Alabama,” Lichtenstein said. “When I saw he got the job [at Miami], I knew I wanted to come here, and I reached out to him and it got rolling from there.”

Cristobal made it a point in his Early National Signing Day press conference that the Hurricanes needed to add talent to both the offensive and defensive lines.

“[We need] big guys that can knock you back and control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball,” Cristobal said. “Guys that are long and rangy at tackle. Powerful and strong on the interior, offensively and defensively. We need guys that will eat up the A-gap and B-gaps to allow the linebackers to run free and make plays.”

Two days after this press conference, on Dec. 17, Lichtenstein committed to Miami, bringing competition to defensive line coach Joe Salave’a’s unit. Adding to the defensive line nucleus, the Hurricanes have also received commitments from UAB transfer Antonio Moultrie and UCLA transfer Mitchell Agude.

“I definitely feel like it’s [an] open competition and that’s what you want. It’s going to push everyone to get better and no one can relax,” Lichtenstein said. “You always go to be 10 toes down and just be ready to go and never relaxed. Don’t get complacent because that’s when you lose your spot [and] lose your opportunity.”

In his three months in Coral Gables, Lichtenstein has worked his way to becoming a rotational clog on Miami’s defensive line. He received playing time with both the first and second teams throughout spring practices.

Lichtenstein’s spring-football success was exhibited at Miami’s spring game. The sixth-year senior was productive, recording a sack, a fumble recovery and a deflected pass that led to UM’s only interception of the afternoon.

Also for Lichtenstein, Saturday’s spring game brought upon his first opportunity to wear a uniform that had his last name displayed across the back of it. At USC, players only sport their numbers on the back of their jerseys. The Trojans are the only remaining FBS program to continue this tradition.

“I’ve never played with my last name on my back, so I felt a lot of pride in that,” Lichtenstein said following Miami’s spring game. “It represented my family, so it felt great.”

With the USC transfer set to play close to where he grew up, along with the addition of his last name draped across the back of his jersey, Lichtenstein will look to represent not only him but his family in his final season of college football.