Farming and football.
Apart, they are two of the more well-known, longstanding American traditions. Together, they make up the core of Josh Yoder.
Though farming is only a pasttime for Josh’s parents, Dave and Julie, the Linfield College senior quarterback intends to take his passion to another level. He is already buying land and farm equipment, such as tractors, for himself near his hometown of Hubbard, Ore.
“We’re getting more of our own fields and expanding our operation. I’m trying to expand my own thing because right now it’s a hobby farm. My parents both have their own jobs and I bought my own tractor and other pieces of equipment this last summer. I’m trying to find new fields, and most of it right now is making hay. We’re also looking into going into wheat farming,” says Yoder enthusiastically, looking ahead to his life beyond Linfield.
When it came to selecting a college, Yoder faced a severe conflict of interest in deciding between going to a college that offered a major in agriculture or to enter into a competitive football program, where his passions could grow and thrive.
Ultimately, Yoder chose to attend Linfield for the tradition of excellence demonstrated throughout the football program.
“The whole football tradition appealed to me. I assumed I could just get a business management degree and apply it to my farm. I chose what I felt was best for me,” he says.
Despite selecting the path he felt would take him the furthest, Yoder still faced his share of obstacles and difficulties in getting to where he is today.
“Linfield is the best (NCAA Division III) school in the area. The school’s full of great athletes and great coaches. It’s not the simplest schematically, and the football team is pretty complex, so that’s been a big challenge.
“I came from a high school program where we ran the Wing T offense and that was just cut and dry ‘this-is-how-it-is’ plays. The plays are more complex at Linfield, but also more rewarding.”
Yoder adds that earning the position of starting quarterback for his senior year has been the most rewarding moment of it all.
“Since spring, it’s been an open tryout for quarterback between (Yoder), Matt Yarbrough, and Tom Knecht,” notes receiver David Sigler. “It went back and forth for a while. This is Josh’s fourth year in the system, so he knows the routine pretty well.”
“All the quarterbacks are similar,” says Sigler. “They can all throw and run, so it’s not necessarily the fact that Josh knows the system that got him the spot. He’s extremely athletic and can make the right throws at the right time. I’m excited for him to get out there and have his chance.”
Yoder is no stranger to the rewarding feeling of finally getting to start at quarterback after waiting patiently.
“In high school, I was backup for the first three years, and then my senior year I ended up getting the starting spot,” he recalls. “It ended up being a really successful year. I’m hoping that’s how this year turns out.”
Yoder has easily taken the lessons learned from high school and farming and applied them to his football career at Linfield.
Says Sigler, “Everyone calls him ‘country strong.’ He’s always showing up to workouts, even in the summer, fresh off the farm. That’s just his personality and it adds to how people perceive him, because he’s always working. He’s not just a student going to school and playing football. He’s a student going to school, playing football, owning his own farmland, and helping his family.”
Adding to his work ethic, Yoder has grown in the program from watching current quarterbacks coach Aaron Boehme and receivers coach Mickey Inns compete as quarterbacks for Linfield. He’s taken their coaching to heart, having observed first-hand how they dealt with leading the team and playing the game.
Yoder is also not afraid to work until he gets it right.
“I spent time over the summers working with my receivers, getting my timing down. I’ve met with a couple defenders a couple times and gone over strategies and tried to understand the plays from their perspective. It’s helped a lot,” he says.
“Josh isn’t exactly a vocal leader. He leads by example,” says Sigler. “If guys are messing around, it’s easy to look to him to get us back on task.”
Wildcats head coach Joseph Smith has nothing but praise for his senior pivot. “Josh is a high integrity, hard working, thoughtful, low ego, high output type of man. He is a great leader by example.”
Yoder is equally appreciative of his coaches’ influence on him.
“The coaches were all just really supportive and showed me they wanted me to stay. It felt good to know that I was wanted.”
Smith is as excited as Yoder to see what the Wildcats can achieve with Yoder at the controls. “Josh is doing very well and we expect him to be very productive steering the ship for us this year.”
If all goes to plan this season, perhaps, it could be a quiet country boy leading the team to its loudest success.
-- Kelsey McGarry '16