You had a really good freshman season at Shelton State CC, hitting .356, and you started your sophomore off really well also, didn't you?
"I started my sophomore good. Everything was going good. I was catching well, swinging the bat well, seeing the ball well."
Then, you were injured. Talk about that injury. When did it happen and what exactly happened?
"We got to Wallace-Hanceville (on a Saturday). I was 2-for-2 that day. Then in my third at-bat I went to a deep count and they brought a guy in to face me. It was a righty on a righty situation. He was throwing (his fastball) 88-90 (miles per hour). I fouled off a good many pitches, then I thought he was going to throw me a fastball and he did but it was high and inside. I didn't really see the ball and it hit my chin. After the ball hit me my adrenalin was rushing like crazy. I fell down and I knew I had been hit. I was sitting there thinking that I had been hit. I didn't know how bad it was but I was spitting up blood. Two of my (bottom) teeth went into my lip. The ball hit there and my lip went back into the teeth. I didn't feel any pain at first. Your adrenalin is so strong you don't feel anything. When I got back into the dugout the trainer came up and pulled my tooth out of my lip. That's when it really started hurting."
What happened next?
"That Monday, they sent me to an oral surgeon. I had a broken chin bone. Tuesday morning I had surgery. It was kind of rough the next few days. I had to let the incision heal. I was told that I wouldn't be able to play again for two, maybe three weeks. I was working through that. I went back that next Thursday and they did an x-ray and it was still broken. But the way they had the wires down in my mouth, the doctor said you are good to play.
"At first, I thought this is really quick. Then I was excited that I was able to play. What they did was get me a chin guard to wear. For catching, I had to wear a full hockey mask. You'll see me wear that mask here as well"
You are in a unique situation considering you are a catcher and every pitch you have a ball coming your way. Hitters only have to deal with that when they bat. You have to deal with it every pitch. How difficult wa that?
"I remember my first ball in the dirt when I was behind the plate. We were playing at Calhoun on a Friday. The first ball in the dirt I made sure that my chin was up. I feel like it went well.
"The weirdest part was my first at-bat. I felt like I was ok. But I try to explain this to people and it's not easy to do. The first pitch, I saw it but I didn't."
How did you do hitting-wise once you came back from the injury?
"I slumped when I got back. I started seeing the ball better but I didn't get back to feeling comfortable hitting until about a week before we played in the state tournament. Your mind is telling you that you are fine but from the mental aspect of it you aren't all ok yet. (As an example) I remember squaring around to bunt my first time. It was a little rough but I got the bunt down.
"I felt great when I came back for the state tournament. I had a really good tournament."
How are you doing now?
"It is good that it is over. I'm 100% over it now."
Going back to the injury. You probably had some schools looking at you prior to the injury. How did the injury affect your recruitment?
"I had a few schools that I was talking to because I started (the season) hot. But when I got hit in the mouth they wanted to know if I would be able to play again. (Mississippi State head) Coach (John) Cohen called me right after the state tournament. I was really excited because this is the mecca of college baseball. If I had to choose any school it would have been here. In my mind I wasn't done (with baseball) yet. I thought I was going to be able to go to a big school but I wasn't sure after I got hit in the mouth. But (Coach Cohen) called me and we talked 30 to 45 minutes about everything. Then he had Coach MIngione called me that afternoon. We set up an unofficial visit for the next week.
"I visited. I talked to (assistant strength) Coach (Brian) Neal, (assistant AD/Academics) Mr. (Ray) Berryhill, Rob, the new academic counselor at the Templeton Center. I met with Coach Cohen in his office. I met with (pitching) Coach (Butch) Thompson. They all made me feel really at home. I ended up committing that day."
What were some things that you liked about Mississippi State?
"I knew this is where I wanted to be. There are a lot of great fans here. All the guys are very welcoming. I came here to help this team win, help them get back to Omaha. That is what Coach Cohen talks about, getting back to Omaha."
You mentioned earlier that you and Coach Cohen talked for about 30 to 45 minutes. What did he say he liked about you?
"They told me that they like my high energy on the field. I try to keep the game up tempo when I can. I communicate with the pitchers."
You've been here for a few weeks. What are your thoughts about Mississippi State now?
"I have only been here a few weeks but I already love it here. The coaches are great. It's great here."
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 email@example.com.