Tyler Whitney has been under the recruiting radar screen for the past year except for three schools.
"I had about three colleges start recruiting me last September with letters," said the 6-0, 170-pounder. "I've received letters from those three - Memphis, Ole Miss and Mississippi State -throughout the fall, winter and spring."
However, over the course of the past couple of weeks, his stock has soared with many other schools. Tyler explained what happened.
"Within the last week, I played in front of a lot of scouts and did really well," he said. "As the week progressed, my coach said that I would probably get calls from those guys. I pitched a couple of innings this past Tuesday and Vanderbilt, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Memphis and a few other schools were there. I did well. And they all told my coach that they really liked me. Sure enough, Friday morning and afternoon, they all called."
Who exactly has called him since July 1st, the first day college baseball coaches could call senior-to-be recruits?
"(July 1st), I had calls from Memphis, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Arkansas, LSU, Vanderbilt, Arkansas State, Middle Tennessee State, Southeast Missouri State, Samford and Birmingham Southern," said Tyler. "I think Ole Miss was the first one, they called me about 10:30 Friday morning. And it just took off after that. Yesterday (July 2nd), I had Baylor call."
With so many colleges calling him, does he have an idea what the coaches see in him, maybe great velocity, control, or is it something else?
"I topped out at 89 to 90," said the home-schooled youngster. "And I'm left-handed, which adds to it. I have a great changeup and a good curveball. I think the biggest thing about me is I don't have any fear when I'm on the mound. I feel comfortable in all situations and I love to pitch. And I think scouts see that."
Although playing for the Memphis Tigers during the summer has been a tremendous help as far as getting his name out to college recruiters, being home-schooled would normally hurt him as far as having a team to play with during the spring. However, his dad and a few other people did something about that.
"My freshman year we started a home school team," said the southpaw. "My dad had a lot to do with that just so that I would have a place to play. It's not nearly as competitive as what I'm doing in the summer, but it was a place to play. We've developed over the last couple of years into a decent team."
Now that he knows some of the schools that will be recruiting him, does he have an early list of favorites?
"That is a really tough question," he said. "It's kind of hard to say right now just because they have just started calling and I've only talked to the coaches one time. Because of that, I'm not going to rule anyone out just yet. They are all good division schools, so I know that I will get a good education wherever I go. I think the biggest thing is my family and I will pray about it and see where the Lord has us go. That's really the biggest issue that we will deal with."
Although they haven't called him, one college could have an edge. Or, maybe not.
"I'm a huge Tennessee football fan, but I don't know if that would be the place for me," Tyler explained. "They have a great baseball program there, but I can't honestly say that's the place for me."
Will distance from home play a factor in his college choice?
"I really don't know," said Tyler. "But I am definitely going to have to deal with that, especially with Baylor recruiting me. It would be nice to be somewhat close to home, but I realize that during the season we are going to be playing and practicing everyday, so I won't be coming home much. I think I owe it to my parents to stay fairly close so that they can come see me play. If it wasn't for them, I wouldn't be in the situation that I am now. But, I'm not really set on staying close to home. I don't mind going far away."
Does he plan on taking all of his official visits?
"I will definitely take my official visits," he said. "We are allowed five official visits. I plan on taking those and explore all my options. Unfortunately, I am going to have to narrow it down to five schools, then, eventually, one. I'm sure that is going to be hard because everybody has been very nice. There are a lot of different coaches at a lot of different schools that I would love to play for, but, unfortunately, I can only pick one."
While he's not ready to name a favorite list, does he know much about any of the schools that have called him?
"I know a lot about (The University) Memphis because it is my hometown and I've grown up around it," Tyler said. "We just got a new coach this year, Coach Rock from Mississippi State. I've gotten to talk to him a couple of times in person when I've been on campus. I have a few former teammates who play there. I went down to Mississippi State for a game this past spring and got to talk to Coach Raffo and Coach McNickle some. I had also talked to Raffo on the phone once because they can make one call in March. That was the first time that I had met McNickle. And I was very impressed with Coach McNickle. I have also been down to Ole Miss a few times to watch a few games, just because it is close to my house. It's a lot of fun to go down there and watch SEC teams play. So, I've gotten to know Ole Miss some. I've been down to football games and know the campus real well. I talked to Coach McDonnell this past Friday, so I kind of have seen what he is like."
What were his impressions of Mississippi State assistant coaches Raffo and McNickle?
"My impressions of Coach Raffo and Coach McNickle are that they are very nice guys who took a genuine interest in me, and seemed like great baseball guys," he said. "I would imagine that they are a lot of fun to play for. And, when it comes time to make my decision, I will definitely keep that school in mind."
As you talk to Tyler and learn more about the type pitcher he is, the more he reminds you of another southpaw - former Mississippi State pitcher Paul Maholm. And Tyler knows a lot about Paul due to several connections.
"During the summer, when he was in high school, he played with the Memphis Tigers, the team that I play with right now," said Tyler. "I've never played with him because he is about 5 or 6 years ahead of me, but I saw him play in high school when he played for Germantown (TN) High School. His summer coach is coaching me right now so I hear a lot about him. He compares me to him a lot, which is very flattering because, from what I remember and hear, Paul was an outstanding pitcher and an outstanding person. And that's what I want to be."
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Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the Dawgs' Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.