"He committed to Mississippi State (Saturday) night at about 12 o'clock," said Jarred's dad, Mark Holloway. "Coach Polk was in the lobby doing the curfew. Jarred went over to talk to Coach Polk and told him that he wanted to come play baseball (at MSU). Jarred had no doubt. When he told him, Coach Polk seemed pretty excited. We were, too. The whole program is just too good, including the academics, the baseball part, the facilities, everything. And all the coaches were upfront about everything."
Jarred, who is ranked the 130th best senior in the nation on the September 23rd list of Perfect Game's top 300 seniors (a list published by Baseball America's ProspectsPlus), explained why he felt MSU was the place for him.
"I liked everything and (Coach Polk) made me an offer that I couldn't turn down," said the 6-4, 218-pounder. "The facilities were extremely nice. I met almost all of the players. They all said it was fun to play there and that it wasn't real stressful and the coach was serious about it. I am really excited and ready to get down there."
Mark, as a parent, came away very impressed with the way he feels his son will be taken care of while at State.
"I spent the last week and a half putting together the questions I wanted to ask and it turned out that they were so thorough in explaining everything that I didn't have to ask any questions," said Mark. "They absolutely answered every question that I had (written down).
"We were very impressed with everything. Number 1, was that they have an academic advisor that really kept up-to-date on the academics. (Mr. Berryhill) told them up front that they were going to catch things before they became problems. If they are late for a class, he will know about it. And, in turn, the coaches will know about it. To us, it was a really big deal to see how they keep up with what they are doing in class and making sure they attend class. We've talked to several places and they have never even mentioned class. It was mostly baseball talk. Here, there was plenty of baseball talk, but they started the day off by talking about what they expect in the classroom. We were very pleased with that part of it.
"The fact that the campus is easy to get around on was a factor.
"One other thing is the people. Even when we went into the stands (at the football game), people would stop and shake the hands of the coaches. I don't see that happening at other places. It just seemed like they knew most of the people there. That was pretty impressive. We've gone to a bunch of SEC games and I've never seen coaches go over and talk to anyone in the stands. And we usually get to games really early, so I can see the coaches killing time. And I don't really see them talking to anyone (in the stands).
"I was also impressed with them having the skybox where (baseball) alumni can come back and watch games anytime they want to. It just seems like (the MSU baseball coaches) try to stay in touch with everybody.
"The trainer was nice. And he told us everything that the trainer we go to up here has told us.
"The weight coach went over what he does with pitchers. He actually demonstrated what he does.
"The presentation of the coaches was great. There was no pressure from the coaches. They showed us what they have planned for Jarred. They said they are recruiting him as a conference starter. Coach Polk also said that he will be given every opportunity to DH some or play first and hit. Every kid loves to him, but he has pitching on his mind. I think (Jarred) knows his hitting days are probably numbered."
When you consider the number of schools that were heavily recruiting Jarred, you definitely understand why the MSU coaches feel he can be a conference starter.
"Arkansas made him an offer," said Mark. "Ole Miss had set him up a visit and told him that they had a deal that they would like to show him. Penn State had a visit set up and an offer. (They) told him that he was their number 1 prospect. But they were really too far away. Tennessee called, but we told them that they are 14 hours from here and we really wanted to stay within driving distance. Vanderbilt watched him pitch three or four times and talked to him. Western Kentucky contacted him, as did Middle Tennessee State. Belmont and North Carolina, also.
Even national champion Texas showed serious interest in Jarred.
"Texas called his school to get him to come to their camp," said Mark. "He went to their summer camp and they talked to him a couple of hours. They took him around and showed him the school, the dorm the locker rooms and everything there. Their coach showed him his national championship ring and told him if the wanted one of those, he would go there. They kind of told us what type of scholarship, percentage-wise, he could expect. But I didn't think that (Texas) was a good fit for us. It was nothing against the coaches. It was just that the city was too big and the facilities were really run down. It just didn't seem like a good fit for us."
When you consider the kind of interest he had, I'm sure many of you are wondering that kind of pitcher Jarred is.
First his stats.
"He was 2-2 and his ERA was either 0.70 or 0.80," said Mark. "He came out of about 7 games when we were leading and we wound up losing them. I think he pitched 44 innings and had 96 strikeouts. He had 18 to 20 walks and 17 hits. For the past 10 years, several of the state champions have come out of our conference. It's a tough (5A) conference."
Being in a tough conference was part of the reason the Holloway's moved to Russellville a couple of years ago. The other reason was due to Russellville's coach, Denny McCrotty.
"We moved here due to the coach," said Mark. "He is considered the top coach in the state. No one that I have ever talked to remembers a pitcher of his ever having arm trouble."
And there's a reason for that reputation. He understands the importance of having a reasonable pitch count, especially for young pitchers.
"Our coach has been very good holding him to a pitch count," Mark said. "He told us that Jarred (who turned 17 years old in late August) is young and he didn't want to run his pitch count up too high, so he said he is going to go 75 pitches or close to that. He didn't pitch into the 7th inning except for 2 times last year."
While his stats probably didn't impressed you to the point of understanding why he is so highly thought of, the qualify of his arm will.
"When he's really good in the summer, from the second inning on, he'll stay at 90 to 91 most of the game," said Mark. "At a big rival game of ours, he was still hitting 92 in the sixth inning. For some reason, he'll add a mile or two in the second or third inning. And he'll hold that even into the seventh inning. Now that's only when I'm back there watching a gun."
Ok, now I've probably got you so impressed that you are starting to worry that Jarred will go pro out of high school. What are Jarred and Mark's thoughts about pro ball compared to college ball?
Jarred put it bluntly by saying, "I would rather go to college first."
Mark went into a little more detail.
"It won't be a factor for me or his mother just because of his age," said Mark about Jarred, an outstanding student who is making mostly A's in his Honors classes. "I would love for him to go to college. I can't see you taking a chance on throwing away all of your college career for something that you may not be mentally ready for. We would really hate to see him go into a minor league system with kids that have already been there 4 or 5 years that would mentally beat him down. If he goes to college, he'll only be 21 after three years. (Jarred will turn 21 years old August of his junior season.-Gene)
"We aren't going to be so happy that if he gets drafted that we drop everything, especially after going down to State this weekend. The campus life is something that I would hate to see him pass up. I would like to see him be able to experience that and get his degree. And, hopefully, college could take the place of a lot of minor league time. If you go into the minor leagues, you could get overwhelmed by the pressure of having to play for money instead of being at school and playing. It seems it would be easier for him to develop in the lower pressure of college - and I'm not saying there's no pressure - and help lessen his time in the minors. (Pitcher) Houston Street, who is from Texas, got drafted and he only spent a month or two in the minor leagues and he's now closing for Oakland. His college was like his minor leagues. It would have to be something extraordinary for us to consider it. And how many high school seniors and college juniors and seniors (get drafted in the 1st round)? The chances of that happening are so slim."
Even the pro scouts who are showing interest in him feel MSU would be a positive place for Jarred.
"When they ask him where he plans on going to college and he tells them Mississippi State, everyone of them have told him that you can't go wrong at Mississippi State," said Mark. "And that's pro scouts saying that. That makes you feel even better about Mississippi State."
And I bet that Jarred's commitment makes the MSU coaches feel even better about the future of the Mississippi State baseball program.
Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the Dawgs' Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.