Classic Coverage: Teammates in Greeneville, S.C. cheering on Jacob Foutz

(l-r) Jake Lee and Jacob Foutz celebrate after the pair won the 2017 Carhartt College Championship. In the final "fish-off" when the two fished against each other to win the individual title and the chance to fish in the Bassmaster Classic, Foutz won. However Lee will also walk the Classic stage as he fishes Lake Keowee in the invitation-only Classic College Championship on Sunday. (Contributed Photo)

GREENVILLE, S.C. – When Jacob Foutz walks across the weigh-in stage at the 2018 Bassmaster Classic on Friday there will be tens of thousands of spectators in the arena cheering… plus maybe a million more watching online. But odds are that Foutz will care most about just a handful of folks on hand to watch – his family and friends from the Bryan College Bass Team. Besides his family, eight or ten of his Bryan College teammates are expected to be in Greenville for the final Classic weigh-in on Sunday.

(l-r) Jacob Foutz, Jake Lee and on the right, Brian Foutz – Jacob’s Dad – congratulations his son during a huge homecoming celebration held last year after Foutz and Lee won the 2017 Carhartt National College Championship. (Photo: Richard Simms)

Unfortunately illness is preventing Foutz’s Bryan College Bass Team coach, Mike Keen, from attending.

“I hate like the dickens that I can’t be there,” said Keen. “But I just can’t travel right now.”

Of course the coach had a few words of wisdom for Foutz, but Keen admits it was very few.

“The only thing I’ve told him is ‘Do what you do,” said Keen. “Jacob is a very even-keeled young man. The highs are not very high and the lows are not very low. And I think that’s going to serve him well [in the Classic.]”

Asst. Coach Dave Peron, who will be in Greenville, said sort of the same thing.

“I saw Jacob last Friday and just told him, relax and have fun,” said Peron. “Swing for the fences and do what you know how to do.”

The coaches agree that Foutz is an incredibly mellow young man. It is hard to get him frazzled… or at least he never shows it.

“He’s got the ability to not panic and if necessary, change his approach in the middle of the match,” said Keen. “I look for him to do pretty well [in the Classic].”

Noting that he did NOT say he looks for Foutz to win, Keen added, “That’s an awfully big stage. Would it surprise me if he won? No, it would not surprise me. But he is fishing again the best in the world. There’s got to be some nerves setting in.”

Peron is in Greenville to support Jacob, but he is also there for the team as well. It has been kept very low-key, but at the same time as the Classic there will also be “invitation-only” Classic tournaments on nearby Lake Keowee. On Saturday invited high school teams will fish and then on Sunday about ten college teams will be on Lake Keowee competing. And both of those events will be weighing in on the same stage just prior to Classic competitors, in front of the tens of thousands expected at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville.

Bryan College competitors Cole Sands and Jake Lee had just dropped their boat into Lake Keowee Friday.

Lee said, “Yea, it’s going to be very cool. Anytime you can walk across the Classic stage it’s something special.”

Lee said their prize is more bragging rights than anything while Foutz is fishing for a first place purse of $300,000. But with all three competing, Bryan College families and friends have plenty of people to root for.

Lee said he’s hoping “to bring it all back to Dayton, Tennessee.”

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