Just a few short years ago Brent Rooker was wondering where he would wind up playing college ball. Fast forward to last Thursday night where Brent was watching his future team, the Mississippi State Bulldogs defeat the number 2 ranked Kentucky Wildcats.
"It was almost surreal for me to watch the game," said Rooker, with amazement still noticeable in his voice. "The last three years I have been worrying about where I was going to go to school, then I was watching the atmosphere (at Mississippi State's Dudy Noble Field) that night and knowing in two years I will be a part of it and be able to play in front of those fans. It was amazing. I think when (Daryl Norris) hit that three-run home run and the crowd erupted that was when it solidified for me that I had made the best decision possible. There was no where else in college baseball that would give me a better opportunity to play in front of such great fans."
While Rooker's decision was, as he said, solidified after watching Norris hit what would wind up being the game-winner for the Bulldogs, it was a decision he thought long and hard about before making.
"I thought about it a ton," said Rooker. "I talked to my parents about it a lot. And I spent a lot of time in prayer about it. After weighing everything, I just felt (Mississippi State) was the perfect fit for me. And that's where I wanted to be."
Although he made his decision several days prior to the Thursday night game, he waited to tell the Mississippi State coaches.
"I made my decision either Monday or Tuesday of the week prior to coming down (to Mississippi State)," said Rooker. "I waited to tell the coaches because they had spent so much time talking to me and recruiting me that they deserved for me to go down and tell them in person."
And after telling them face-to-face, he knew it was the right thing to do.
"It was great telling them," said Rooker. "In the office with me were (MSU head) Coach (John) Cohen and (MSU assistant) Coach (Lane) Burroughs. They said they were excited to have me on board. It was such a great thing to know that they were so happy to have me on board with them. It was really exciting for me to know that I was committing to be part of such an amazing program that has historically been good and what they are now, having such a great season."
Rooker had several college that he was looking at prior to choosing Mississippi State.
"My final four were Mississippi State, Tennessee, Samford and Memphis," said Rooker. "Memphis had also offered me. I had five or six schools tell me that they were going to offer me after watching me play this summer. But once I got to Mississippi State and thought about it I realized there was no where else that I wanted to be and that it was the perfect fit for me. I really didn't feel the need to continue intense conversations with other schools."
Evangelical Christian School head baseball coach Ryan Porter talked to several of the schools that were recruiting Rooker and knew of several who were prepared to offer his player.
"Memphis offered him a pretty big scholarship and I think Tennessee was, too," said Porter. "I also talked to Perry Roth at UAB and they were going to offer him, too. I think Samford was also looking at him."
Porter explained the attributes that Rooker brings to a team.
"He is a great hitter," said Porter. "He wears out the gaps. He can hit 90 miles per hour pitching pretty easily. He faced about six college arms this season, including Victor Cole, a Memphis signee, and a kid that is committed to Ole Miss, John Wesley Ray, and St. Georges John Marc Shelly, a Mississippi State signee. Shelly pitched against us twice this season. He was 90-92 both times we faced him and (Rooker) got hits off of him."
While hitting is a key strength of Rooker's when it comes to baseball, he's also an exceptional athlete and a very intelligent young man on and off the field.
"He is also a great athlete for a first baseman," said Porter. "Because he is so athletic, he will probably play basketball for the first time next year. I think he ran a 4.6-something and has a 36-inch vertical. He can two-hand dunk on people. He was 19-of-19 in stolen bases this year. He's also a good defensive first baseman who can also play third base and other positions as well. We use him at first, though. He's also got a really, really good baseball IQ. He's just got a great feel for the game. He's also off-the-chart smart. He's not only baseball smart but book smart, too."
This past season, Rooker hit .450 with 15 doubles, 3 triples and 3 home runs while knocking in 38 RBI. He plays his summer travel ball with the East Coast Grays.
Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.