Honors and Achievements: 2004 2A State Most Valuable Player, 1st Team All-State, 1st Team ll-Metro, Pitcher of the Year on the All-County Team, All-State All-Academic/Athlete . Head Coach: Lance Blair. Stats: 14-2, 96.1 IP, 107 SO, 1.89 ERA (0.37 ERA in the playoffs). Academics: 4.0 GPA, 24 ACT (will retake). Pitches: Fastball (88-90), changeup, slider and a curve to a smaller extent.
Q&A with Ricky Bowen
What schools actively recruiting you?
"It started this summer. The first school was after the first showcase that I went to and that was Troy State. Then, South Alabama. Mississippi State, of course. Then, at Mississippi State another guy from Southeast Missouri State saw me. Samford (in Birmingham) was another one. A lot of other schools expressed interest but as far as actively recruiting me, it was those five."
A lot of players go to showcases like Perfect Game USA and others similar to that to help them get their names out. Did you go to many of those type showcases?
"No sir. As far as showcases, the only ones that I went to were the ones at the colleges."
Which schools tried to get you to come in for a visit. And what schools did you officially visit?
"The only visit I took was to Mississippi State (September 17-19). Samford, South Alabama and Southeast Missouri State were trying to set up a visit."
How was your visit to Mississippi State?
"We got there on Friday and ate dinner in the skybox, the alumni suite. Then, Saturday we toured the campus and went to the football game. Sunday morning, we got up and my parents and I met with Coach Polk. He sat down and explained all the reasons why Mississippi State baseball is top of the line. I already knew it was but to have it reinforced was great. Then, he broke everything down so that everything was crystal clear. He wanted to make sure we were on the same page. We pretty much didn't have any questions because everything was well explained.
"The visit was far more than anything that I expected. I have a friend (Trent Hill) that plays there, so I kind of knew what to expect. He played at another high school in the county that I live in. I had an idea what it would be like but I didn't know it would be that incredible. The experience, you can't ask for anything better. They know how to do it."
What specific things made the visit so great?
"First, the coaches. The coaches are top of the line. Coach Polk is so well-known in baseball. He is so wise in the game. He has pretty much devoted his life to the game. Coach McNickle, who I got to know through the Mississippi State pitcher showcase that I went to this summer, is such a Godly man and such a good leader. And Coach Raffo, he has been around the game for a long time. It is incredible how much they know about the game.
"The players were great. Knowing Trent kind of helped me. I got to hang out with him and got to meet some of the other players. I was able to see how they interacted with each other. It is almost like they are all brothers, almost like a family. That's what we kind of have at my school with our baseball players. That is what I saw on their team.
"The facilities are incredible. That stadium is amazing. The Palmeiro Center was also a big draw. They expect to have the actual building ready by March 31st and the coaches offices that are going in front of that to be done right after that, possibly by June.
"The campus is incredible. It is one of the most beautiful campuses that I have ever seen. They offer my major, civil engineering with a minor in architecture."
Did Mississippi State offer a scholarship during your visit or had they already offered a scholarship prior to the visit?
"They offered then. I knew going up there that they were because they told me they were. The other colleges had made offers prior to setting up their visits."
Did you go ahead and accept the offer while on your visit or go home and think about it?
"I had a pretty good idea what I wanted to do. I knew I couldn't ask for anything better. But I decided I wanted to think and pray about it to make sure that it was what I wanted to do and what God wanted me to do. I went home and three days later I knew for sure that was where I wanted to be, so I called Coach McNickle and he told me to call Coach Polk. So, I called Coach Polk and told him that I had decided to commit. They were real excited."
Now that you have your college recruiting over with, there is always the possibility that you will get drafted in next June's Major League Baseball Draft due to your height/weight combination and fastball velocity. What are your thoughts on that?
"I go to Doyle Baseball in Florida every year. They all played pro baseball and they mentioned the draft. They said not to worry about it and that it would probably be a late round because I'm not physically mature like a lot of other kids."
How much has your velocity increased over the past couple of years?
"Until I was 14 I had average velocity and was always a location pitcher. Then, I started growing when I was 15 and 16. It was obvious that I had a lot of velocity then. It was a new thing to me because I had always depended on location."
What did Mississippi State pitching coach Russ McNickle say that he likes about you as a pitcher?
"He said that I have a real live arm and a fastball that has a lot of movement on it. Even my baseball coach talks about that, how it has such late movement on it. I don't really have much of a curveball. I don't really know where it is going (laugh). I'm mainly a fastball/changeup pitcher. When I was at Mississippi State's showcase last summer, after I threw my bullpen, they had me come back and throw another one for Coach McNickle and Coach Polk. They were around me a lot the next day giving me pointers more than the others, so I knew something was up. They helped me out with a curveball. I kind of moved from a curveball to a slider."
Gene Swindoll is the publisher of Dawgs' Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com, the source for Mississippi State sports on the Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.