Remember that old song from Sesame Street, "One of these things is not like the other?" That's kind of what comes to mind when you line up Josh Jarboe's athleticism against just about anyone else on the field.
It was evident that he would be a stand-out player from day one of fall camp, when he was standing on the sideline doing back flips — just because he can.
Jarboe, a JUCO transfer wide receiver from Northeast Mississippi Community College (originally from Decatur, Ga.), was a four-star recruit out of high school, ranked the No. 10 receiver and No. 13 player in the nation overall by ESPN.
With those kinds of accolades it's no wonder Arkansas State head coach Hugh Freeze cracked a telling smile as he simply said, "Yeah, he's a good player" when asked about Jarboe.
After jokingly calling Jarboe "a work in progress," Freeze went on to talk about his past relationship with Jarboe, and how he got him here to play for the Red Wolves.
"He's really dear to me — I recruited him when I was at Ole Miss, believe it or not, from Cedar Grove, so we had a past," Freeze said. "And then I went down and had a talk with him at Northeast about his plans, his future, and kind of how he saw his story being written from this point on."
So Jarboe began the next chapter of his story at Arkansas State... with a minor setback during week one of fall camp: a shoulder injury that actually happened during a series of pool games with the team. Jarboe blames it on the fact that "Freeze is a good swimmer."
"Well, I had an injury — it was just a little spasm," Jarboe said. "Yeah, it happened swimming ... cause Coach Freeze is such a good swimmer, I was trying to beat him."
All jokes between Jarboe and Freeze aside (which, there seem to be jokes aplenty between the two), his shoulder is healed and he's been practicing all week.
"I'm getting better — working hard in the weight room, getting stronger and stuff," Jarboe said.
He showed off that hard work in practice today, as he caught a pretty impressive touchdown pass from Andre Smith. Although he is still new to this Arkansas State offense and said he is working hard at learning the system.
"I'm really just trying to learn, learn, and learn ... learn the offense and make sure I've got everything down, every aspect of the playbook, so I can just know everything and what's going on so when my number is called, I can be that guy to get it done," Jarboe said.
Jarboe said he is here to work hard, and credits it all to Freeze, who he said he truly loves and respects.
"I'm really excited. He's a great man, he truthfully loves his players, and I love him. Without him I wouldn't be here," Jarboe said.
And the feeling seems to be mutual, as Freeze said he knew Josh was someone special from the first time he recruited him years ago.
"I fell in love with him — I think he's special, and we stay on him all the time to make the right decisions and represent himself in a way that he wants to be represented from now on, and I'm thrilled he's on our team," Freeze said.