Goodpasture senior Brendan Jones won’t be following any of his classmates to nearby colleges like Belmont, Lipscomb, Middle Tennessee, Tennessee Tech or UT-Chattanooga.
The speedy outfielder is heading to the Big 12 to join the Kansas State baseball team. The Wildcats coaching staff spotted Jones at a travel tournament last year and eventually asked him to come for a visit.
One trip to Manhattan – the one in Kansas, not New York – was enough to sell Jones on the idea of attending school nearly 700 miles from his Greenbrier home.
“After going on a visit there, meeting the coaching staff and seeing the facilities, I kind of fell in love with it,” he said. “It’s a college town. Everything (revolves) around Kansas State. It’s a nice area.”
When Jones committed to the Wildcats last October, even his high school coach did a double take.
“We all felt confident he was going to get an opportunity, but I think it surprised all of us that it was Kansas State,” Goodpasture coach Jim Carter said. “That caught us off guard. But Brendan’s visit there went incredibly well, and he connected with the coaching staff.”
Jones also drew interest from Power 5 programs like Duke and Tennessee. He hit .442 with 20 RBI, 15 doubles and a whopping .549 on-base percentage in 36 games as a sophomore at Goodpasture in 2019.
After his junior campaign was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic, Jones batted .318 with four doubles, five triples and 15 RBI for 5 Star Midsouth on the travel circuit this summer.
As much as his stats jump off the page, Jones’ coaches say it’s his intangibles that separate him from other standout players. 5 Star Midsouth coach Matt Cohick witnessed that first-hand when Jones went up against top competition each of the last two summers.
“He does a lot of the little things right, and not just from a baseball standpoint,” Cohick said. “He takes care of his body, watches his diet and stays in the weight room. I think he wants to prove to everyone that he’s one of the best outfielders, not just in the state of Tennessee but maybe even around the country.”
Carter called Jones “the hardest worker we have in our program” – high praise considering the Cougars make regular state tournament appearances and churn out college signees every year.
“The things that make Brendan special really don’t have a whole lot to do with his measurables,” Carter said. “As a coach, you really like those times when your most talented player is also your hardest worker. That doesn’t happen as much as you might think it happens.”
Jones bats leadoff for both Goodpasture and 5 Star Midsouth. His ability to get on base makes him ideal for that role, and the left-hander hopes to continue to be at the top of the lineup when he gets to Kansas State.
“I’ll hit anywhere, but I think leadoff is where I’m most comfortable,” Jones said. “I like being the first one up and setting the tone for the game and for the team.”
Once Jones gets on base, he usually doesn’t stand still for long. He stole 23 bases as a sophomore and already had eight steals in seven games before Goodpasture’s season ended in mid-March. Jones also led 5 Star Midsouth with 20 swipes this summer.
“You can pretty much mark down a single as an automatic double,” Cohick said. “Within the next two or three pitches, he’s going to be on second base, and after that, he’s potentially coming to see me at third.”
That speed also comes in handy for the Goodpasture football team, where Jones is a Swiss army knife of sorts for the Cougars. He saw time at running back, slot receiver, defensive back and kick returner and compiled 1,477 all-purpose yards, 13 total touchdowns, 66 tackles and three interceptions in 2019.
“It helps me stay in shape and teaches competitiveness,” he said. “You have to dig deep in football. That translates to baseball or whatever you are doing.”
It remains to be seen exactly when the 2020 football season will start or if it will be played at all in Davidson County. Either way, Jones said he’s looking forward to enjoying his senior year without the pressure of having to choose a college.
“It was a big relief off my shoulders,” Jones said of his early commitment. “I can just go play and have fun and not worry about performing for this coach or that coach.”