From “O Canada” to “Hail State”, Mississippi State’s freshmen Canadians have encountered quite the culture shock on their journey to Starkville, Miss. Jacob Robson and Kyle Hann come from an elite group of baseball players from north of the border. Both were members of the prestigious Ontario Blue Jays and Canadian Junior National Team as-well-as being known as some of the top prospects in the country. So how did they end up at Dudy Noble Field?
After claiming Gold in Seoul, South Korea with the Canadian National team, the two really began to see their stock rise and teaming together with the Blue Jays cemented their names at the top of several coaches’ lists. “My head coach Dan Bleiwas of the Ontario Blue Jays did a great job of getting our name out there,” Hann proclaims. “We would be gone for two weeks at a time playing at different programs and colleges. People started talking about us because our name got out there .”
However, Mississippi State wasn’t the first on either’s radar. Hann signed with the Oklahoma State Cowboys and was set for Stillwater, Okla. “I signed with Oklahoma State before I came here and the coaches left so I asked if I could remove my signature,” Hann says. “I was lucky enough that Coach Cohen came up to watch me play and asked me to come and play for him.”
Robson had developed a strong relationship with Hann over the years and was interested in the Cowboys as well, but after the change, he was feeling just as bullish about the Bulldogs as his counterpart, but he says it was more of chance than following suit. “We played together for a couple of years and the coaches we played for always put us together and had us room together so we became good friends, but it just worked out that we ended up at the same school,” Robson says.
So what about this new lifestyle? It would seem that a new world has been discovered by these two and transition is coming easy, but things are, well, different. “Being elite athletes growing up, we try to eat really healthy and living in the dorm makes that hard so we have to eat a lot of fried food,” Robson says rather willfully. “Down here you don’t have too many options with the organic or grilled foods so we live off of Chick Fil A.”
But what really brought the pair to God’s country wasn’t the extra meat in their diet. Mississippi State’s brand had been heard loud and clear. “Mississippi State is pretty big in Canada. Every SEC team is big over there, really, but MSU is one of the biggest and best SEC school’s out there,” Hann boastfully touts. “It’s just a baseball place. The competition in the SEC is amazing, and it’s a winning program. It was everything I wanted and I just wanted to be a part of it.”
The excitement of having the first two Canadian-born players in Mississippi State baseball history is nice, yes, but it's the tools that the two bring that is the most welcome from Cohen and Co. Both bring game-breaking speed to the offensive and defensive spectrum with Hann admitting Robson is the speedster of the group while both are super fast freshmen. So when did Robson know he was crazy fast? "My junior year I knew that I wasn't as big as everyone else but I found out that I was a lot faster than them," Robson remarks. "My dad was a football player and my mom was a track star, so it just in my blood."
There is a culture shock indeed for these two Canadians, but after their strong showing in the early part of the Mississippi State schedule, it would seem the maple leafs are poised for a tremendous southern career, aye?