QUITMAN, Miss. -- When Matt Boone came to Quitman as the new head coach of the Panthers baseball program, one of the first players he met was Jacob Irby.
"I think everybody just kind of follows in his footsteps," Boone said. "He's worked hard for me, he's bought in, and when the younger guys see an older guy buying in to a new coach, it makes it easier for them to do the same."
"There's definitely going to be a turnaround here pretty soon," Irby said. "We've been working hard, and he's been working hard to get us better. This program is definitely going to turnaround in the next few years."
A two-sport star for the Panthers, Irby has all-district honors as a football player, and is the everyday catcher for the Quitman baseball team.
"He's smart and game-savvy. He knows the game," Boone said. "So, he's actually like another coach on the field, so you don't have to worry about that aspect."
Irby sets an example not only on the field, but in the classroom as well. He's ranked 5th in his class at Quitman High School, with a perfect 4.0 GPA.
"We're here for school first, and then to play," Irby said. "What kind of teammate you are is also what kind of student you're going to be in the classroom."
"The guys look up to him. He doesn't walk around talking about it, it's just through action," Boone said. "He's a leader. He never has to say anything. He does it by example, and I think that's the best kind of leadership."