Road Warrior Commits To Tigers

This top catching prospect from Tide territory talks about his decision to be a Tiger.

Atlanta, Ga.-–In baseball there are road trips and then there is the current road trip in progress for new Auburn commitment Dustin Spruill from Paul Bryant High in Northport.

Playing summer ball with the Central Florida Renegades, the 5-11, 190-pound catcher has been a busy player since the end of his junior season and he says that while it has been tough it is a big help to his development as a player.

"I actually haven't been home since May 26," Spruill tells Inside The Auburn Tigers. "I have been on the road for two months. I won't be home until August 1. The best baseball you're going to play is in the summer. You play the top competition and players in the country every day.

"In high school you'll face one or two pitchers that are top players every now and then, but during the summer you face college to pro pitching every day. It takes your game to the next level."

One of the top players in Alabama for next season, Spruill is considered by many to be the state's premier catching prospect. It might surprise some to see a player from the Tuscaloosa suburbs choosing Auburn, but Spruill says among the many reasons he's becoming a Tiger is because it's in his blood.

"One, I grew up an Auburn fan and I have always gone to football games and baseball games," Spruill says. "My dad graduated from Auburn and it was just always the place I wanted to go. This year was a big year as well. We played three games there, like a baseball classic, at Plainsman Park. I met with the coaches and actually Coach (Tom) Slater saw me play at the week before at Perfect Game Nationals at Turner Field. He saw me play there and also in Auburn. He met my parents and we kind of hit it off from there."

As a junior for Paul Bryant High ,Spruill hit .340 with six home runs, 47 runs batted in and defensively he threw out seven of nine potential base stealers.

The switch-hitter says that the strength of his game is in his mechanics behind the plate. "I think catching and throwing is my strong suit," Spruill says. "I have really worked on knowing the game and calling the game. I worked with a couple of guys (Dax Norris, Lee Evans, Clark Evans) that are in the minor leagues and in the big leagues to help me out. I've worked on the small stuff to try to take my game to the next level. I have never been the biggest guy out there so I try to do a lot of the small things right."

Spruill becomes the third Alabama high schooler to commit to Slater and the Auburn Tigers for 2007 joining Joseph Sanders from Stanhope-Elmore and Austin Hubbard from Homewood. Much like both of the players before him, Spruill says that the ease at which he is around the coaching staff had a big impact on choosing the Tigers.

"They are a real young coaching staff and that really got my attention," Spruill says. "I don't like an older coach that just kind of lets his assistants go. Coach Slater is a real hands-on coach and a real personable guy. That was a big thing for me because when I have a problem I want a guy I can talk to and he's not a guy you can't approach."

For now Spruill turns his attention to the World Wood Bat Championships being played in Cobb County, Ga. One of the top tournaments of its kind in the U.S. each year, the tournament is a big chance for players to see competition before returning to school in the fall. When Spruill returns it will be as an Auburn commitment, which could be strange living in Tuscaloosa for some, but not for this Tiger. In fact he likes nothing better than being known as an Auburn man in the middle of an Alabama crowd.

"It has actually been fun," Spruill says. "All my friends are Alabama fans. They know where I stand and it's always a rivalry, but it's fun and it actually makes it better. When you actually get to go to Auburn it makes it better because you're not there all the time."

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