William Hunter Jarrell, senior biological engineering major, is an iconic figure on Mississippi State University’s campus. Known to his friends as “Billy,” “Mr. Billy Lonesome” or “Candyhands," students across campus may know him simply as the man in overalls and no shoes. Although he is a figure recognizable to most, there is more to Jarrell than his sweet spot for a pair of Liberty overalls and impressive ability to skateboard barefoot regardless of weather conditions.
Jarrell spent the first 13 years of his life in Northern Virginia, growing up as one of six children. At the beginning of his high school career, his family moved to Shenyang, China for his father’s work. They spent four years there, and Jarrell became fluent in Mandarin.
Jarrell spoke fondly of this experience.
“I loved it. It was like living in America in the 1930s. The people there heated their houses with corn stalks and coal. Everyone harvested their corn crop by hand. It was a step back in time,” Jarrell said.
Jarrell is a man of many interests and talents, and his plans after graduation are anything but conventional.
“I intend to go to the Harley Race wrestling school and be a professional wrestler. I know I’m not the biggest ‘ol boy, but I can sure wrestle. I want to drop elbows off the top row, I want people off their seats. I want to stir people up. After wrestling school, I want to do country music in Nashville. Then after that I’d like to be a rodeo clown out West. I’d love to settle down, but I haven't found anyone to settle me down yet, and that’s ok. Until then, I’m going to ramble,” Jarrell said.
During his time at MSU, Jarrell has been involved with the rugby team since his freshman year. He is also the president of Coalition of Christian Outreach and is involved The Starkville Church of Christ. Additionally, Jarrell plays multiple instruments. He is even in a musical duet group with another student. Jarrell said he has thoroughly enjoyed the college experience.
“The opportunity it offers to be blessed and bless others in a phase of life that’s so special, that phase being college,” Jarrell said.
Jarrell’s love for overalls and lack of shoes often piques the curiosity of those around him, and his zeal for both is undeniable. Jarrell has overalls for all occasions, and for Jarrell, putting on a pair of overalls is the most natural thing in the world.
“For me it's just like putting on any clothes. Some of us wake up and put on britches, some put on little pink dresses. Some of us wake up and put on overalls. They’re the clothes of my people,” Jarrell said.
He is an avid supporter of Liberty Overalls, in particular, and has considered all the advantages a pair of overalls brings him. Jarrell stated his argument for his clothing of choice.
“Overalls are the ultimate article of clothing. First, the pocket space is incredible if you get Liberty overalls. Any other pair of overalls will let you down. I like to keep snacks and drinks in there. Then, you have two butt pockets, and a strap for your gun or hammer or whatever. And they’re great for wrestling. In old time wrestling, you had to take off a man’s pants and you’d beat ‘em. And it's hard to take off another man’s overalls,” Jarrell said.
Jarrell is equally as passionate about his preference to be barefoot.
“I hate wearing shoes. First, Mississippi State likes to brag about having the nicest grass east of the Mississippi. How are they going to put all this grass out here and not expect me to walk through it and feel the tingle in my toes? Two, although it hasn’t happened recently, it likes to rain in Mississippi. How is the Lord going to put a puddle in front of me and expect me not to jump through it? And I hate soggy socks, so I just don’t bother,” Jarrell said.
Jarrell is a friend to so many, and he is unafraid to strike up a conversation with whoever is around. His sister Madeline Jarrell is a freshman double majoring in culinology and food science with a business processing concentration. She spoke to her brother’s knack for approaching people.
“He’s quite the character. He’s very outgoing and friendly. He is always wanting to do new things, try new things- very adventurous. I love how outgoing and fearless he is. He will go up to whoever and say whatever, and is friends with everyone. That is something I really admire,” Madeline Jarrell said.
Clara Sanders, a senior majoring in nutrition, became friends with Jarrell through a biochemistry class they shared together last fall. Jarrell complimented the parachute-pants Sanders was wearing, and the two have been great friends ever since. Sanders said she thinks very highly of Jarrell.
“I think he brings out the best in people. He knows he’s a little different in some ways, but he’s okay with that. He is purely himself. Authentic. And for that, I think he encourages others to be themselves too. I think if nothing else, he is a friend to any and everyone he comes in contact with. A lot of people don’t get close enough to really get to know him, but he’s something special,” Jarrell said.
Jarrell makes friends wherever he goes, and this year many people have encouraged him to run for homecoming king. Jarrell is excited for the opportunity.
“I can’t let the people down. I’m speaking the people’s language. If they want me out there, they’ve got to put me there. We have an opportunity here at Mississippi State to elect someone to represent the people and the campus. It is just a smile waiting to happen. If you want to know whether or not I’ll wear shoes to the 50 yard line you’ll have to elect me and find out,” Jarrell said.
Jarrell wants everyone to know they are welcome to come watch wrestling at his trailer on Wednesday nights at 8:45 p.m.
“If I could have anything in the paper besides telling the people that I love them and the Lord loves them even more, it’s to come to Wednesday night wrestling. They can talk to me in person, and I’ll give them my address. The entire University is welcome- the more the merrier. If I have 1,000 people show up, I’ll just put up my projector,” Jarrell said.
Anyone can follow Jarrell on Instagram @mr._billy_lonesome, where he posts videos of his music and wrestling.