Jacob Irby is so used to introducing himself to new teams that it’s almost become routine. He isn’t shy. From the first moment, he meets everyone he can and lets them know that he’s a happy person who is focused on being a leader and making them smile.
“I’m an open the book,” Irby said. “Let’s get the pages turning. You’ll meet me the first day and know me for who I actually am.”
Irby joined the Bakersfield College football team in the third week of the season. It was the North Carolina native’s fifth school in five years after going to three different high schools and redshirting his first year of junior college at Hutchinson Community College in Kansas.
By Week 4, Irby made his first appearance and he’s started three of the last four games for BC while original starter Josh Medina has deal with a hamstring injury. Irby has the worst completion percentage of BC’s quarterbacks (48.4) but the most yards (607), yards per game (121.4), yards per attempt (9.8), touchdowns (five) and best efficiency rating (147.6).
Irby is coming off his best performance for the Renegades — 8-for-12 passing with 210 yards and two touchdowns — and will likely start again as BC hosts Moorpark at 6 p.m. on Saturday.
“It’s really fun getting to meet everybody. Being on a team you really become brothers with somebody,” Irby said. “Right now I’ll do anything for anyone in there, and I’ve barely known them but a month.”
Irby’s continuous school changes started in high school. He spent his sophomore year at Cox Mill before finishing out his career at Mount Pleasant and Concord — all in North Carolina. Family issues prompted the moves to different high school areas, Irby said.
He redshirted the 2017 season at Hutchinson and was the only returning quarterback on the roster for 2018. “Uh ohs in the road” brought about the end of his career at Hutchinson, Irby said, declining to go into further detail.
“I can’t really get into all that,” he said.
Irby’s father knew someone, made a call and Irby wound up further across the country in Bakersfield. He didn’t know whether he’d get to play at all this season.
The first day at BC in mid-September, Irby met his new teammates. They went out to eat to get to know one another. The biggest impression he made on sophomore wide receiver Cameron Roberson was on the practice field.
“He can really rip the ball,” Roberson said of his first impression of Irby, “and he kind of possesses a leadership role that a lot of guys find comfort in.”
The QB’s initial focus was to learn the playbook. He’d read it when he woke up and fall asleep with it in his hand.
Irby did not dress for the Santa Monica game on Sept. 15. He and the coaches decided against it. Irby dressed for BC’s game at Golden West on Sept. 22 and after Medina went down, he entered the game to try to lead a fourth-quarter comeback.
BC head coach Jeff Chudy had told The Californian prior to the game that Irby would not play and Chudy said after that bringing him in was “not what we wanted, not what we needed.” Irby did not know he was the second string QB at that point.
Since then, he’s shown his ability to throw the ball downfield and take risks. He’s thrown touchdowns of 70 and 69 yards the past two games.
Irby has also shown a penchant for drawing roughing the passer penalties. He’s drawn at least one in every game he’s thrown more than two passes in. He does like to step up in the pocket and feels a quarterback should be able to take a hit. Part of it might be thanks to a little embellishment, too.
“He’s an actor. He kind of milks it a little bit, but we need that,” said Roberson, who enjoys the favorable 15-yard penalties. “... Whatever he can do to milk it and become Leonardo DiCaprio, we don't say anything.”
In Irby’s mind, the move to Bakersfield and getting the starting quarterback job at BC are opportunities he’s been afforded, and he needs to take advantage of them.