Jared Koon Commits to MSU

Jared Koon, a 6-4, 210-pound, freshman righthanded pitcher who plays for Itawamba Community College, has committed to Mississippi State.

When asked if the rumor was correct, the rumor about him committing to Mississippi State, Jared quickly said, "yes sir, I committed to them."

However, while it was easy enough to say he had committed, getting to that point wasn't as easy due to many factors, some of which had nothing to do with State or Ole Miss.

"My friend has just passed away," said Jared who went to his friend's wake a couple of days ago. Then, there were the normal everyday things student-athletes deal with. "We still have the State (Baseball) Tournament to worry about and that started today. And we have exams coming up."

Finally, when he worked through those factors, the bottom line finally came down to his feelings about two schools: Mississippi State and Ole Miss. He had his chance this past weekend to complete his evaluation of both.

"I sat down with (MSU) Coach (Ron) Polk Monday of this week," said Jared. "I went in there with a lot of doubt because I wasn't sure where I was going to go. Both schools wanted me really bad. It was tough to make a decision."

And part of that was due to knowing where he stood with Ole Miss and not knowing where he stood with MSU. It appeared to Jared that Ole Miss was more interested due to the calls he received from their coach and the silence he felt he was receiving from the MSU side. He found out later the reason for the silence.

"State coaches did call me, but (Itawamba CC) Coach (Rick) Collier wanted me to stay around another year," said Jared. "(Ole Miss assistant) Coach McDonald called me, but I don't know if Coach Collier knew that. Coach Raffo called Coach Collier several times and Coach Collier told him to hold off until next semester and I would sign after my sophomore year."

Not knowing that would obviously cause any recruit to be concerned. Jared was no exception.

"At first, I was concerned that they weren't as interested as Ole Miss," said Jared. "But when Coach Collier told me how many times Coach Raffo had been in touch with him...and Coach Raffo actually called (MSU signee and fellow teammate) Andy Rice several times strictly about me. Andy would tell me some nights that State was really interested and really wanted me and don't do anything just yet, give them time. That made me feel really good."

He felt good, but something was still missing, a scholarship offer from MSU. Finally it came.

"I had been offered a really good scholarship by Ole Miss and I was waiting until State offered me," said Jared, who also was told by Auburn, Tennessee and Southern Miss that scholarship offers were available if he was willing to travel that far from home. "(MSU) ended up offering the same thing. Then, it was where I wanted to be and the best situation for me."

That might sound simple to some, but it wasn't so simple to Jared because both schools were so similar.

"There were so many good things about both schools for me," said Jared. "I have friends that play for both schools. Both (of their) facilities, once the (Rafael) Palmeiro (Center) is built, will be about equal."

Offers the same, friends playing at both schools, facilities similar...what's left? Well, there's one thing that MSU had, something that no other school could offer.

"I have always been a State fan and have always wanted to play for State and Coach Polk," said Jared, who finally got his chance to sit down with Coach Polk earlier this week.

"I sat down with Coach Polk (Monday) and he talked to me and my family," said Jared. "I just had a gut feeling and that was what I went with."

He then called MSU assistant coach Tommy Raffo two days later to talk one more time before finally pulling the trigger. And that seemed to do the trick.

"I called Coach Raffo (Wednesday)," said Jared. "I told him that Ole Miss was still coming after me really hard. I asked him if there was anything that Mississippi State could tell me. Coach Raffo told me that they wanted me and that they offered the biggest scholarship that they could offer me. That made it real simple to me."

You would have thought been a fan of Mississippi State that it would have been simple early on, but Jared isn't your typical MSU fan when it comes to Ole Miss.

"I have friends that are Ole Miss fans," said Jared. "And I have always enjoyed going with a group and watching Ole Miss. I'm not one of those (MSU fans) that hate Ole Miss. My being a State fan wasn't why I wouldn't go to Ole Miss. It wasn't anything like that."

Now that one decision has been made, this young man has another one coming up in June, the month the MLB Draft rolls around. Should that be something MSU fans need to be worried about? "I have filled out questionnaires for 10 pro teams," said Jared.

Questionnaires are important, but having teams watch you play on a consistent basis helps you judge how interested they really are. How does that look?

"I think the Rockies watch me consistently," said Jared. "There is a pretty consistent amount of scouts that come to watch us." Part of that us is Andy Rice, a teammate who has hit 14 home runs this year and is receiving heavy looks from several pro scouts due to his power and his strong left arm.

But, despite the presence of Rice, what scout wouldn't look at a tall righthanded pitcher who throws as hard as Jared does?

"I normally stay in the upper 80's. I hit 95 once and I think I've hit 94 two or three times" said Jared, who topped out at 87 to 88 as a senior in high school. "I talked to the Houston Astros scout today. He was trying to convince me to go back to juco another year so that they could draft me. He said it was probably my 5th start of the year and that he had clocked me in the low 90's at least four or five time. He said I was getting it up there pretty consistently."

Although the draft is always a possibility, Jared has plans other than baseball this summer if that doesn't pan out.

"I'm thinking I might rest my arm this summer and play for a local team ever now and then," said Jared Koon, who will officially sign with MSU this week or possibly next week and be considered a sophomore in eligibility next season. "I don't think it would be good for me to go off and play in a wooden bat league. We talked about it and I felt that my arm would be wearing down pretty good."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of Dawgs' Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com, the source for Mississippi State sports on the Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing swindoll@genespage.com.

Gene's Page Top Stories