Anything involving baseball was all I ever wanted to do. From playing wiffle ball in the backyard, collecting baseball cards, waiting hours before a game for autographs, and playing games daily; I knew baseball was the life for me. I started swinging a bat at age 2 and never put it down. I played tee ball, Little League, travel ball, and American Legion. As I progressed into high school, I knew I had what it took to play at the next level. The question became, how do I get there? This question is something that I talk with our players at Prime Time on daily! How do I get seen by college coaches? How do I get on their radar? What do I need to do to make myself stand out from everyone else?
Playing American Legion Baseball (which was equivalent to the current travel baseball today), we played games and tournaments not only in my home state of Michigan but we also traveled around the midwest and out east. We played in Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, and Canada. There were college coaches at these events but you never knew if/when they would be at your games. I remember a tournament at Notre Dame we went to. The first day we took batting practice and I hit 3 of my 7 pitches out for a HR and 2 that hit the fence. That night, my dad’s cell phone blew up with about 25-30 schools asking me for my summer schedule and what my team's schedule was the rest of the weekend. Obviously as a rising junior in high school, I was beyond excited! The next day we played our first game against a sub par team and I did well. I had 2 hits (1B and 2B) and walked once. Calls kept coming in at night back at the hotel from the college coaches. The final day, we played a DH against a team from Texas. They had some boys who could play and throw HEAT! The blew it by me and then rattled off some off-speed pitches that made me look silly! As you can imagine, there were no calls that night.
I finished the summer strong with interest from numerous colleges at all levels. Obviously I wanted to go to a top division one school (like most if not all high school ball players) but I also knew to keep my options open because you never know what can happen. That summer, we decided to make a recruiting video. I was filmed running my 60, fielding and receiving balls at 1B, and taking batting practice. We also added game film for the college coaches to see me in some live at bats. We sent these VHS/DVD’s (Youtube wasn’t around yet) to every college I was interested in to try to catch the attention of a coach's eye.
Jay Alexander, Head Coach at Wayne State University, happened to put my video in one night and saw my play. He immediately called me up and invited me to come check out the campus. When I arrived in downtown Detroit (90 miles from my hometown), I didn’t know what to expect. I remember going to Tigers games and driving by their campus saying to myself, there is no way I am going to go to school there. I was surprised how nice the campus was and how competitive the baseball program was. I also liked they had my degree, at the time it was Physical Therapy, and that it was far enough from home that my parents wouldn’t stop by anytime they wanted but it was close enough they could come watch my games and see me from time to time. I left Wayne State that day with a good feeling.
I had a few different offers when it came time for me to make a decision. Villanova had offered me a very small scholarship but it was an out of state school and would have cost a fortune. I also would have lost all my in-state scholarships (I had a 3.9 gpa and numerous scholarships for my academics). I also wasn’t sure if/when I would have a chance to compete to play. Michigan State offered me a preferred walk on spot but told me I wouldn’t have a chance to play till I was a junior and even then the chances would be slim. I wanted to go to college to PLAY baseball, NOT watch other people play! That alone helped me get to my schools in line to make the best decision for me. When I picked up the phone to call Coach Jay to tell him I wanted to play ball and further my education at Wayne State, he told me he wanted to come watch me play basketball first (I was in the middle of my Varsity Basketball season). He told me that he likes to recruit athletes, not just baseball players. He came to my game that Friday and watched us get the win. I only had 9 points but 11 rebounds. He saw me move up and down the court and look athletic (key word was LOOK athletic).
Everyone will take different routes to get to the school that’s right for them. I had friends who committed super early and I had friends who committed super late. What’s important is that there is no one way to do this. Everyone will be on their own timeline and you should focus on your individual path and not look at what everyone else is doing. Don’t get caught up in the twitter world of posting commitments and offers. Enjoy the process, even though it’s a tough one, and your time will come! When it does come, enjoy the moment then get back to work and prepare for your new path!