Jordan Tarver figured he’d made his last important decision regarding athletics in February when he signed a football scholarship to Kent State University.
But that was before Tarver, a three-sport standout at Stephenson and quarterback on the football team, became the top hitter in the county this season. And before Major League Baseball scouts with the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets made their way to Stone Mountain to see him hit.
If he gets chosen in the MLB draft in June, Tarver will have to decide whether to honor his football scholarship or sign a pro baseball contract. He chose Kent State over several other football offers, including Vanderbilt, Miami, Georgia Tech and Tulane.
If Tarver gets drafted but opts for football, he will have to wait until after his junior year in college to be eligible for the baseball draft again.
Some sage advice from his parents, Jeffrey and Lacretia Tarver, has helped their son get through his senior year with minimal stress and confusion.
“My mom tells me every day before I leave home to make good decisions,” Tarver said. “I appreciate her for that. My parents always tell me to stay focused, listen to my elders and pray.”
Marco Jackson, Stephenson’s baseball coach, also has had an impact on Tarver.
“He and I have developed a great relationship because of this,” Tarver said. “Coach Jackson has always told me to be prepared because you never know who is watching. I feel like he is looking out for me.”
While Stephenson has struggled with a 3-16 record, Tarver entered the final week of the regular season as the top hitter in the county with a batting average of .564. He also leads the county with eight home runs and is second with 33 RBIs.
He credits year-round participation in sports—Tarver also is the point guard on the Jaguars’ basketball team—and participation on a travel-league baseball team for his outstanding. In addition his hitting prowess, Tarver possesses a strong arm on the mound and in the field.
“Strength training in football has helped me in baseball,” Tarver said. “I run a lot during football season and went to the [batting] cage in the fall. I take every sport very seriously and always go 110 percent.”
Versatility also is a strength as Tarver plays left field, catcher and third base along with being the team’s best pitcher. He has a 3-5 record with a 3.79 earned run average.
“To me, I think the kid has a better future and more potential in baseball than he does in football,” Jackson said. “When you can hit a baseball like he can and get paid, that’s something.”
Tarver has managed to take his parents’ advice and stay focused despite all the attention during both the football and baseball seasons. Tarver’s recruitment for football began during his junior season and he has had to adjust to the attention from college and pro baseball scouts this spring.
In addition to his hitting, scouts have been impressed with his pitching. Tarver has been clocked at 93 mph.
“My mindset has always been the same,” Tarver said. “Mentally, I knew I might as well get used to the attention and I tried not to let it bother me.
“The [baseball] scouts tell me they are looking for five things—arm strength, speed, power, hitting and defense—and I have four,” Tarver said. “All I’m missing is speed.”
Jackson is hopeful Tarver’s ability and hard work will lead him to a baseball career.
“I really do hope a team will take a good look at him,” Jackson said. “He just wants the opportunity.”
Meanwhile, Tarver continues to take the entire process in stride and lets his numbers do the talking. He is hopeful to be taken in the first 10 rounds of the draft, but is content to see how the next few months play out.
“My parents are with me no matter which sport I end up playing,” Tarver said. “I just stay positive and stay away from the streets. I keep praying and I know God will always lead me toward the right way.”