Austin Jobe is getting an opportunity that doesn’t happen very often in college athletics.
He will be going to a school that not only has a rich history with his family, it has become home.
Jobe, a former El Dorado standout who is getting ready to start his sophomore season at Crowder (Mo.) Community College, recently signed with Harding University.
“I knew what I wanted in a school,” Jobe said. “I knew I wanted it to feel like home. Most people know I have a history with Harding. My parents graduated there, my aunt and uncle met there, my brother went there. It’s really been a family school, so it’s always been an opportunity for me that I knew was there.
“I’m at the point to where it’s bigger than baseball. Harding gives me the opportunity to not only grow as a player, but as a person. I think where I’m at in life, it’s bigger than baseball. I think this opportunity for me is going to be really big.”
Jobe said he hasn’t decided on a major, but is leaning toward education.
“Honestly, I haven’t thought about that yet,” Jobe said. “I’ve got classes here at Crowder pointing toward more of a coaching or teaching.”
As a freshman, Jobe was used in a swing role, making 12 appearances along with five starts. He went 4-2 with a 6.82 ERA and one save over 34 1/3 innings. He walked 14 and struck out 43.
Jobe pitched well in a relief role down the stretch, going unscored upon in four of his last six appearances for Crowder, which finished with a record of 50-13 last year.
“It’s been really good,” Jobe said of how the fall went. “It’s been a really good fall for the team and for me as a person. I knew coming in it would be a little bit different because at a community college, you come back for your second year, and you’re the big guys. You’re the upperclassman.
“I knew it was going to be weird coming in just because I’ve only been here for a year, but it’s really played itself out really well. It’s really been a good experience. We have good leadership that came back and the freshmen have fallen in line right where they should. I’m excited to see where this spring takes us.”
Jobe added that by signing early, he can turn his attention to just baseball in the spring.
“Coming into this year, I was kind of skeptical,” Jobe said. “I didn’t know if I wanted to get an offer or commit before Christmas, but then I came in and I wanted to get to work. I did and I got what I wanted. I knew Harding was definitely a top three option. I moved to Searcy and that’s home. My house is five minutes from campus, my dad is a preacher there, I have numerous friends there, I don’t think there’s a better fit for me.
“Harding was described to me once as a year-long church camp. For me, church camp has been the turning point in my life, so for me to be able to experience that in college year round and play baseball, I don’t think there will ever be anything that will top that experience. I’m excited. I’m pumped up.”
Jobe said going to a community college helped him grow as a person, as well as on the diamond.
“I think the biggest thing for me was just to find who I am, and I think I’ve done that,” Jobe said. “Coach Travis (Lallemand) has done an exceptional job of attaching a purpose with everything that I’ve done. Having to do the recruiting process again when I actually know what I’m looking for, it’s not just the school’s name that I’m hearing, but being able to attach purpose to everything that I do and see deeper than just the baseball aspect of it, it’s huge. It’s been more of a changing of person than just player.”
Jobe also offered some advice for those who may be skeptical of the competition at the junior college level.
“For anybody that says that Division I JUCO is just a junior college, I want you to come and watch us practice or come watch a spring game,” Jobe said. “You can say just JUCO all day long, but until you come and watch it and see for yourself, I promise you that Division I JUCO is just like NCAA D-I. Throwing intrasquads are insane. Our hitters are the best in the country, and to see that day in and day out when you’re throwing on the mound, you really can’t beat that.”
By signing with Harding, the Great American Conference has another former Union County standout in the conference, and Jobe can’t wait to get started.
“I’m excited because we have OBU and SAU, and I know numerous people on both teams,” Jobe said. “Jared Rhodes is at SAU, Trace Shoup is at SAU, Ashton Yarbrough is at SAU and Joseph Bolin is at OBU, so I think it’s going to be really, really cool to play against people that I’ve not only played against, but have been teammates. I’ve known Joseph since I was 4. Jared and I used to be neighbors. We played wiffleball in the front yard together since we were in first grade. Being able to play against people like that on the college level, I think it’s going to be so much fun.”