Starkville High School senior Jonathan Evans signed a baseball scholarship offer with Holmes Community College on Monday. Evans is shown with his family members during the ceremony at Starkville High. Photo by: Scott Walters/Dispatch Staff
May 15, 2018 10:25:46 AM
STARKVILLE -- Starkville High School senior baseball player Jonathan Evans recently received a lesson in why first impressions matter.
Evans had low expectations when he attended a tryout last week at Holmes Community College.
Turns out, the Bulldogs coaches liked what they saw and offered him an opportunity.
"I was speechless (when offered)," Evans said. "You always believe in your ability, and I thought my day there was pretty good. However, I never dreamed it would end in an offer, so once they offered it was a no-brainer. This is what I wanted to do. Being able to continue to play baseball is a blessing. It's a great thing."
Evans made things official when he signed his scholarship offer Monday in the school library.
Outgoing Starkville baseball coach Travis Garner is proud of each of his three signees from this season's Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 6A playoff team.
"It means so much when you see players leave your program and sign to play on the next level," Garner said. "We will always have a connection. Proud of Jonathan for the amount of effort he has put into his game. He was also here taking those extra cuts, doing the things he needed to do to become a better player."
Evans felt like his chances to play college ball were greatly diminished when he suffered an anterior cruciate ligament tear prior to his junior season. He spent that junior season going through rehabilitation to make sure he would be able to make the most of his senior season.
"The injury really set me back," Evans said. "It leaves a lot of doubt that you are going to play on the next level. I wanted to work hard to get back out here to help my teammates this season. If that led to a chance to play college ball, that was just going to be an extra blessing. My time here was great. Working with my coaches and my teammates made me a better person and a better player."
Perhaps, Evans' biggest surprise from his tryout was a strong performance on the pitcher's mound. Holmes coaches told Evans he could be used as an outfielder and pitcher.
"They were impressed how I threw off the mound," Evans said. "The other thing that stood out was my speed. The coaches told me I would have a lot of opportunities to run the bases. They want to my speed to good use."
Garner said Evans still played his senior season at less than full speed.
"He is a kid with a world of ability," Garner said. "He was starting for us a sophomore. Then in football, is where he got hurt. Sometimes you have late bloomers. With a new coaching staff getting a chance to work with him, they can help him realize that potential. He was one of our most talented players."
Evans is grateful for the opportunity.
"How it all came together, all I can do is thank God," Evans said. "I was just hoping for a chance somewhere. It's going to be fun to get to a new school to concentrate on school and on baseball. It will be fun to hopefully reach my full potential."
Follow Dispatch sports writer Scott Walters on Twitter @dispatchscott
Scott is sports copy editor and reporter
5. MSU men roll over Vanderbilt to reach .500 in league play COLLEGE SPORTS