Hornback a Rebel

Ryan Hornback signed to play baseball at Ole Miss last week, becoming one of the last commitments of the fall class just days before the signing period began.

A 6-foot, 185-pound catcher from San Jacinto College in Texas, Hornback had originally signed to play for the University of Texas Longhorns but chose the juco route instead. And he chose a good one to attend.

San Jac, as it's called, has historically been one of the country's best junior college baseball programs. Last spring in Hornback's first season there, the Gators were national runnersup. They'd entered the tourney as the top-ranked team.

Hornback, along with his brother, outfielder Riley who signed with the Baltimore Orioles after being drafted in the 12th round, helped lead San Jac to a 54-12 record.

Ryan was drafted in the 43rd round by the Tampa Bay Rays but chose the Division I baseball route and Ole Miss. The Sweeny, Texas native said he is happy with his decision.

Ryan Hornback

"I loved the town of Oxford," said Hornback, who visited the weekend of the Ole Miss-Auburn football game. "I'm from a small town in Texas. Ole Miss just felt better."

Better than the other schools recruiting him. He said his decision came down to Ole Miss and Tennessee. Oklahoma and Vanderbilt were also in the mix.

"I just liked everything about Ole Miss," Hornback said. "I knew it was the place for me."

The Rebels have three catchers on this year's team but will lose one and maybe two of them for the 2012 season. Miles Hamblin is a senior in the spring of 2011 and Taylor Hightower is a draftable junior. Will Allen is a true freshman.

Last year as a freshman at San Jac, Hornback, one of the country's best juco catchers, batted .351 with 15 doubles to lead his team and also hit one home run with 31 RBI. He was named a Rawlings Gold Glove award winner as well as being selected, along with brother Riley who was then a sophomore, to the Junior College World Series all-tournament team.

At Sweeny High, Ryan had been a two-time Texas All-State player, as well as a four-time All-County and All-District selection and a Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association All-Star.

Ryan said playing for the current Ole Miss coaches was also key for him.

"Coach (Carl) Lafferty and Coach (Mike) Bianco were both catchers," he said. "That was important in my decision."

Hornback joins 13 other signees that make up the fall signing class of 2010 that will arrive on the Ole Miss campus for the fall semester of 2011.

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