With two starting quarterbacks unavailable for the Patriots, rookie Jacoby Brissett will be the one taking snaps until Tom Brady returns from suspension. Brissett was a third-round pick in last year’s draft, and got his first NFL action after Jimmy Garoppolo went down in the second quarter of last week’s win over the Patriots.
Brissett looked composed in his relief effort, completing six of nine passes and staving off the Dolphins long enough to win. The Patriots will need more than short passes and screens on Thursday, when they take on the Texans in Brissett’s NFL debut as a starter.
Here’s what you need to know about him and his girlfriend, Sloan Young:
1. The Couple Met After Brissett Transferred to NC State in 2013
Brissett started his college career at Florida, where he was also immediately thrust into action. Had he stayed with Florida, he would have never met Young, who is a North Carolina native. Brissett, who is originally from Florida, transferred during his sophomore season after a coaching change at Florida.
The move worked out for Brissett, who was strong in two seasons in Raleigh. He finished his Wolfpack career with over 5,000 yards and 43 touchdowns, garnering attention from NFL scouts.
2. Young Graduated From North Carolina State With a Major in Interpersonal Communication
According to a blog Young kept in the summer of 2015, young was born and raised in North Carolina. She started attending NC State, but as she describes in her blog, “I was never satisfied, I was always searching for more in places that continued to leave me feeling empty.”
Things turned around for Young in late 2012, when she says she “..Got down on my knees in the middle of the night and asked Christ to enter my heart and in return I would surrender my life to him.” Young graduated two years later, leaving NC State with a major in Interpersonal Communication. Shortly after college, Young decided to dedicate her life to urban ministry.
3. Brissett Calls His Girlfriend “His Inspiration”
After graduation, Young started volunteering with a nonprofit group in Raleigh, North Carolina. After working with them for the summer, Young moved on to another nonprofit called CryOut! in Seattle.
Since joining the Patriots, Brissett has abandoned his social media profiles. There’s little mention of his girlfriend on his Twitter feed, except this cute tweet from a few months back:
4. Brissett Is the First Black Quarterback to Start For the Patriots
Brissett’s first start isn’t only important to the Patriots season, it’s important to New England’s history as a franchise. Brissett will be the first black quarterback to ever start a game for the Patriots, leaving the New York Giants as the only team yet to do so.
Onree Jackson was the first black quarterback drafted by the Boston Patriots in 1969. Jackson was waived after a few months with the team and never played a down in the NFL. The Patriots have drafted eight black quarterbacks in all, with the most active being Michael Bishop, who appeared in eight games with the team in 2000.
.5 Brissett Has Never Smoked or Drank Alcohol
Brissett has drawn praise for his approach to the game, including one of football’s legends. Bill Parcells has known about Brissett since college, when Brissett was working under Parcells’ disciple Charlie Weis at Florida. Parcells had nothing but positive words for Brissett after he was taken by the Patriots, including comparing the QB to some Patriot greats:
“He’s a Curtis Martin, Willie McGinest, Troy Brown type player…That’s the kind of guy he is. That’s what New England is getting. Those kinds, those Tedy Bruschi types, those players who’ve been successful — he’s very similar in his personal life to those kinds of guys.”
Brissett has refrained from smoking and alcohol, and has made football a priority in his life. That’s one reason the Patriots kept him on as their third quarterback, and why the team is so confident in Brissett heading into his debut.