Like all the top senior baseball players across the United States, Garrett Harris had the date July 1st on his mind, the first day college coaches could call high school senior baseball players. What exactly was he thinking June 30th?
"It was in the back of my mind that tomorrow was July 1st and I was wondering who would call," said the 5-11, 160-pounder. "I was anxious as to who would call."
His anxiety lasted for a few hours longer once he woke up on July 1st, but then it turned to happiness when the pitching coach from one of the top baseball programs in the nation called him.
"(MSU pitching) Coach (Russ) McNickle called my phone about 30 minutes before we had to be at a baseball game at New Albany and we talked 10 to 15 minutes about how he was going to keep in touch with me and other things like my ACT score," said the 2nd team Louisville Slugger 2005 Preseason All-American selection. "He told me that he had talked to (New Hope HS head) Coach (Stacy) Hester. He also said that they were very interested in me and would keep in touch with me over the next few weeks."
After having the chance to talk to Coach McNickle, what kind of impression did he form about him?
"He sounds like a very, very nice guy," said Garrett. "I've heard a lot of good things about him, a lot of good things that he has done with their program. I think he has turned it around. I really wouldn't mind being a Bulldog and learning from a pitching coach like him because I think he knows the game and knows what he is doing."
Garrett explained what he believes led up to the call from Coach McNickle.
"He came down for the State Games in Meridian (Mississippi) when I pitched Sunday afternoon," he said. "He told me that he had wanted to (personally) get another look at me, so he came down to the State Games. (MSU assistant) Coach Raffo was the only one (from State) who saw me pitch in Oklahoma (at the Junior Sunbelt Classic, which was held in June). He said he talked to him and liked what he had to say. Thankfully, I had a good game and I think that he liked what he saw. That's what he told me. I'm just glad he got to see me and I'm glad I had a good game when he saw me. "
Not only did he have a good game, but he also had very, very good velocity on his fastball.
"I topped out at 93 miles an hour in Meridian," said Garrett, who had previously topped out at 91 on my Stalker gun. "My arm felt good that day."
Did Coach McNickle say anything about him coming in for a visit to Mississippi State?
"He said when school got closer to starting that we would talk about setting up a visit during the fall, maybe go to a game," said Garrett. "He sounds like he is pretty interested, which is a big plus."
What does he know about Mississippi State?
"I know that they have a very rich program and have a lot of good guys coming in every other year, not just good baseball players but guys that like to work hard," said Garrett, who is 24-2 during his career at New Hope. "So, I know if I go there, they will push me to the extreme and make me a better player. I know they have a good coaching staff, because I've watched them at games on Friday and Saturday."
He also knows a few of their current players.
"I know the guy from Caledonia, Josh Johnson," he said. "I see him down in the bullpen when I go over there and talk to him just about every time. I also know Justin Pigott because we played against him and his team when I was in the 8th grade and 9th grade in the (state) championship series. We talk about what happened back when we played each other. I played against Mitch Moreland from Amory two or three years."
He also has another connection, at least somewhat of a connection to Mississippi State, although it's not really going to factor into his college decision.
"I was born in Starkville (Mississippi)," said Garrett. "Coach McNickle, during our phone conversation, asked me where I was born. When I said I was born in Starkville, he said, 'oh, born a Bulldog.' I said, 'well, I guess you could say that, but I haven't grown up a fan of any college, really.' I'm kind of a neutral fan. Say, when Mississippi State and Alabama are playing, you can never really tell who I want to win."
As of now, who would he say are his favorite colleges?
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Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the Dawgs' Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.