Jared Wesson, a hard-throwing, lefthanded, redshirt freshman pitcher who plays for Itawamba Community College, has one school on his mind.
"If Mississippi State offers me this weekend on my official visit I will definitely commit just because I'm a State fan and have always wanted to play at Dudy Noble," said Jared, whose dad, Malcolm Wesson, played basketball at State. "I'm not an in-between kind of guy who maybe wants to go here or go there. I can't remember the first time I went to a tailgate at a Mississippi State football game. It's been my whole life. I've grown up going to the Hump, going to Scott Field and Dudy Noble. I'm all the way State. I want to follow in my dad's footsteps of just playing athletics at Mississippi State."
That love for Mississippi State, however, didn't stop several colleges from showing serious interest in him. But Jared let it be known very quickly that they had better go to the next lefthander on their list.
"(ICC head) Coach (Rick) Collier said Tennessee, Alabama, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Southern Miss and Auburn have called him about me," he said. "I think Southern, Alabama, Tennessee, Ole Miss and Auburn called about every week, but Coach Collier told them that if Mississippi State offers me, then I'm going there. To be blunt about it, I think that's why schools have backed off talking to me."
Recruiting wasn't always this hectic for Jared. His senior season at Tupelo High School he had to have Tommy John surgery after pitching just three games.
"I had the surgery on July 29th of July, 2004," said Jared, who redshirted his freshman season at ICC while rehabbing. "I came back in May of 2005. I was one of the lucky ones because I came back really healthy."
Actually, that's an understatement, because he not only came back healthy, but he came back throwing harder than he had ever thrown in his life.
"As a senior in high school, I pitched three games and I (threw) about 82 to 85 (miles per hour)," said the southpaw, who not only relies on his fastball, but also a curve and changeup. "I'm now consistently in the 88 to 89 range. During the American Legion State Tournament (last) summer, the highest I topped out was 94, but I'm consistently in the 88 to 89 range. I'm happy about (the increase in velocity), although it's kind of crazy."
He now believes an increase in velocity might have been delayed due to playing another sport in high school.
"I think one reason for it was because I played basketball in high school and my arm was never in shape at all," said Jared. "I would go to baseball about a week after basketball and toss the ball. Then, all of sudden I would pitch."
He also thinks that lack of proper preseason training may very well be part of the reason for his arm injury.
"I guess it all caught up with me where it wasn't healthy for my arm and something happened," he said.
But everything has turned out well. In fact, so well that he caught the eye of the Marlins late last spring.
"I went to the Florida Marlins camp, which was like a workout," said Jared. "The area scout that talked to me asked me to come. I went there and they had no (Stalker or Jugs) gun. There were a lot of Marlins' scouts from all across the country. And they already knew how hard I threw. All I did was throw off the mound, then they said they would be in contact with me whenever the draft started."
Then, on draft day, they selected him in the 29th round as a draft-and-follow player. What that means is they have until the day prior to the 2006 Major League Baseball Draft to sign him. If they like what they see this spring, then they will make an offer he either can or can't refuse.
But that's for another day and another article, because, right now, the most important thing to Jared is an offer from Mississippi State. An offer that he would love to say yes to.
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.