Richard Davenport covers recruiting for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He is the host of Recruiting Thursday, a weekly radio show that airs from 7 to 8 p.m. on 92.1 FM in Fayetteville; 93.7 FM in Little Rock; 95.3 FM in Fort Smith; 96.3 FM in Hot Springs; 104.3 FM in Harrison/Mountain Home; and 106.9 FM in Arkadelphia.
The Recruiting Guy:
Bai Jobe pleased with sport switch
Junior defensive end Bai Jobe moved to the United States in 2018 from his homeland of Senegal to pursue his dream of playing in the NBA.
“Watching basketball in Africa, watching the NBA, I had a big dream about basketball to become like an NBA player,” Jobe said.
Fast forward to now and he hopes to play in the NFL after playing football for the first time last year.
Jobe, 6-5, 210 pounds, of Norman (Okla.) Community Christian School, was encouraged by Coach Mat McIntosh and others on his staff to give football a try as soon as he arrived as an eighth grader.
“I told them no, I just wanted to focus on basketball,” Jobe said.
The local newspaper did a story on about five local basketball players who switched to football and became college prospects.
“The whole story was basically basketball kids growing up who started playing football late in their high school career and where all they had committed to,” McIntosh said.
McIntosh gave Jobe the newspaper on a Friday and asked him to do a book report on the article. The following Monday the two talked.
“I said, 'Bai, that could be you,' and he looked at me and he said, ‘Even if all I do is stand on the sideline?’ I started dying laughing,” McIntosh said.
Local orthopedic surgeon James L. Bond and his wife Susan are Jobe’s host family. Bond took Jobe to a high school football game in September which sparked Jobe’s interest and prompted a phone call to McIntosh.
“He knew some people that were playing and Sunday after that they called and asked if it was too late to come out [for football],” McIntosh said.
The next day Jobe joined the team in Week 5 of the season. Used to the metric system, he was asked to run a 6-yard pass route during his first practice.
“He goes, ‘Oh, OK. What’s a yard?’” McIntosh said.
Four days later he played a few snaps in his first game.
“I didn’t know anything about football,” Jobe said.
His family back home wasn’t keen about him playing football at first.
“They were thinking I was going to get hurt,” Jobe said.
He almost left to go back home. His mother died about a month after he got to Oklahoma.
“I didn’t even want to stay,” Jobe said.
Jobe stayed after his father’s urging.
“When my dad says something, I’m going to do it,” he said.
Thanks to his speed and frame that oozed athleticism, he started game three and the remaining four games of the season.
“We lined him up at defensive end and told him just chase the ball,” McIntosh said.
The thoughts of playing in the NBA have subsided.
“To be honest with you, I’m a football player now,” said Jobe, who still plays basketball and has some small college offers. “I’m working hard to be the best I can be.”
Thanks to reporter Brandon Drumm and trainer Sean Cooper, word got out about Jobe. He received his first scholarship offer from Pittsburgh in March.
The University of Arkansas extended an offer on April 16. He’s added offers from Washington State, Vanderbilt, Oklahoma State, Iowa State, Minnesota and Texas Tech. ESPN rates him a 4-star prospect and the No. 233 overall recruit in the nation for the 2023 class.
While his coaches have taught him about football, Jobe has also educated himself online.
“Even though I don’t know everything about football I know a lot because I started to go to YouTube and Google and stuff like that,” Jobe said.
Jobe has been a regular in the weight room after the completion of basketball season.
“I love football,” said Jobe, who attended an Arkansas camp on June 25. “I want to play in college. I have to do everything I can to get bigger and get better everyday for sure.”
He calls the Bonds mom and dad.
“I came to a family that cares about me, that loves me,” Jobe said.
McIntosh said Jobe is super competitive and possesses a great personality.
“He is highly intelligent,” McIntosh said. “He came to the states not knowing English. He speaks French and Wolof which is his native tongue and English.”
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