Early signing period, Nov. 12-19, is fast approaching and several local standouts will have a chance to lock in their college plans.
Oxford short stop Joe McGuire, who committed to Jacksonville State last month, has announced he’s taking his talents to coach Jim Case’s club. (Did you catch the now-overused LeBron reference there?)
“The last half of the season into the playoffs, Joe was probably our hottest hitter as far as doubles, homers and average,” Oxford coach Wes Brooks said. “He just played well throughout the playoffs, and one of the assistants at Jacksonville State came to watch us a couple of times.”
McGuire caught the Gamecocks’ attention even more at a showcase around the end of the summer. Literally the next day, Case contacted Brooks and the McGuire family to meet with the ballplayer. Long story short, McGuire committed immediately.
Putting his offer from North Alabama and interest from South Alabama aside, McGuire will have a chance to play immediately in the infield as a left-handed hitter and may have a chance to pitch, as he develops more, according to Brooks. Before he gets that opportunity, though, McGuire will be the No. 1 starting pitcher for the defending 6A state champs this spring.
The Oxford-Jacksonville State baseball connection isn’t over, though.
Catcher Austin Jones decided he wanted to join McGuire in 2014 as he committed to the Gamecocks early this week. However, only a junior, he cannot make it official for another year.
Taking the connection even deeper, Jones was recognized at the same showcase McGuire made a name while attending.
On the all-dirt diamond, Saks’ standout Taylor West is inching closer to making her decision, which is a little more complicated. Despite most schools being interested in her just for softball, the two-sport athlete is pondering playing volleyball at the next level, as well.
“I think people feel like since she’s so strong in softball that’s what people feel like she’s going to do,” coach Randy Law said. “If she can find somewhere to do both, she may do that.”
Even with Samford, Jacksonville State and several smaller schools wanting West on their team collegiately, West only needs two points higher on her ACT to obtain a full-ride scholarship at Shorter University, according to Law, where she visited last week.
Law added that West, who gave an opposing player a concussion earlier this season with a spike, doesn’t know what she wants to do yet, but would like to make a decision during the early signing period.
• ADVERSITY: Pittsburgh Steelers’ great Jerome Bettis is the only tailback I’ve known to run effectively and also have asthma. Actually, that was the case until I heard something that caught my attention a week and a half ago when I was watching Alexandria and Munford warm up.
One of the coaches told a ball boy to go to the locker room and get Justice Owens’ inhaler. My jaw dropped.
Owens, who has rushed for just less than 900 yards this season and averages 7.81 yards per carry, takes the team on his back while facing asthma and the opposing teams’ defenses each and every week — outside of last week because he’s healing from an injury.
“He has his inhaler on the sideline and from time to time he has to come out of the game to get his inhaler,” Valley Cubs coach Frank Tucker said. “It is unusual when you think of someone that is such a good athlete like that to have asthma, but he does.
“It’s just another thing he has to fight through. I admire him.”
• TAKE A BOW: Making the U.S. Paralympics National Team wasn’t enough for Katie Schewanick and Kayla Hicks of Oxford High. Last week, both girls were named All-Americans by U.S. Paralympics, a division of the United State Olympic Committee.
Hicks made the team’s roster in javelin while Schewanick was selected in the 400 meter, 1500m and javelin.
• THUMBS UP: In the world of recruiting — with respect to top-caliber, undecided talent — every word is picked apart nine ways to Sunday.
Even in 140-character installments.
Racean “Roc” Thomas (@El_GoldenChild) recently tweeted “Nick Saban is the best college football coach ... (with a football and a thumbs up.)”
For someone in his situation, it kind of struck me as odd. The tweet isn’t a commitment by any stretch, but it’s sure a ringing endorsement for the man in T’town.
I mean, who wants to play for the second best college football coach.
Brandon Miller covers prep sports for The Star. He can be reached at email@example.com, 256-235-3575 or follow him on Twitter @bmiller_star