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Jacob Smith continues his dream, signs with Asbury University

It was a day that Jacob Smith had been waiting for since his days as a t-baller. On Wednesday, the Bell County senior got to make a dream come true as he signed his letter of intent to continue his baseball career at Asbury University.

“I’ve worked for it every day of my life, whether it was in the gym, in the cages or on the field,” said Smith moments after officially committing to the Eagles. “I’ve been waiting for this moment my whole life.”

For his parents, who were in attendance for the special occasion, it was a moment they were happy to share with their son.

“I am extremely excited for my son to be able to go to the next level and play,” said Perry Smith, Jacob’s mother. “As long as he keeps his faith in the Lord and keeps his eyes on the Lord, he will go far. I’m just a little overwhelmed. (I’m) a little overwhelmed for him because this has been a dream for him ever since he was a little kid.”

Both parents had a first-hand experience watching their son grow into the baseball player that he is today. Perry coached Jacob in t-ball and baseball, and his father, Calvin, is still coaching his son today as an assistant coach for the Bell County baseball team.

“He has worked tirelessly on and off the field, on and off season. (He’s) constantly putting in the work to get better,” said Calvin. “He’s been wanting this since he was in t-ball. To see him actually get to sign is a big blessing, and it’s also a big step in his life.

“In our lives, it’s good to know that the Lord has allowed him to have this ability and allowed us to be able to be a part of it.”

During the offseason, Jacob plays travel ball for Mid-America Prospects under the direction of coach Brad McNew. As a member of the team, he earned Honorable Mention Player of the Year.

“I want to congratulate Jacob and his family for this great opportunity. Jacob has been a pleasure to work with, and I am thankful for the chance to coach him and help him along this journey,” said McNew. “I could see the potential in him athletically, and he worked extremely hard to reach his goals. Coach Cervantes and the staff at Asbury are getting not only a great baseball player but a wonderful young man who has been raised to trust in his faith.”

Jacob’s trainer, Ryan Shepherd, also has had a front row seat in watching the senior grow as a player. Shepherd simply wraps it up by saying, “I wish I had a hundred clients like him.”

“Jacob, he’s an outstanding athlete. It’s very rare that you come across somebody, especially a kid his age, that has that charisma, that work ethic (and) that’s willing to go that extra mile to put in the hard work to achieve those goals he set for himself.”

Last year, Smith helped his team to an appearance in the 52nd District championship game with a 7-5 victory over Harlan County. The win also allowed Bell County to clinch a spot in the 13th Region tournament, a feat Bell County hadn’t been achieved since 2009.

As a player, Asbury is getting an athlete that held a .306 batting average a year ago with 10 stolen bases. He finished the 2019 campaign with 22 hits, five RBIs and six doubles. He was one of only three Bobcats to play in every game.

Only getting to coach Smith for one season in his high school career, new Bobcat coach Clay Carroll said he felt honored to get to help the senior turn from “a Bobcat to an Eagle.”

“There are hundreds of kids you hear about through the years, and not all of them get a chance to sit on this stage,” said Carroll. “That shows the hard work and supporting family that he has. I’m extremely proud of him. You don’t get a whole lot of chances to coach a kid like Jake.”

Smith will join the Eagles on the diamond in spring 2021. During their 2019 season, Asbury finished 24-22 while going 15-12 in the conference.

“I am excited to add Jake as a part of our team. He is the type of person we want to recruit here at Asbury,” said Eagles head coach Manny Cervantes. “He’s a young man who wants to grow in his faith, is a strong student and a very good baseball athlete. We really like his versatility to play various positions on our team, so we would not be surprised if he quickly makes a contribution to our team’s success.”

Asbury is a member of the River States Conference in NAIA, which holds a total of 13 colleges.