Decision Made

Michael Fitzsimmons didn't want his college decision to be just about where his parents went to school. But sometimes what you know simply outweighs what you don't know. In this case, Ole Miss.

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Fitzsimmons, a talented corner infielder for Memphis University School, committed this week to Ole Miss baseball. His father, Mike, was a defensive tackle for Billy Brewer's first teams in the 1980s. His mother, Kim, also went to college at Ole Miss.

Michael, rated by Perfect Game as the No. 2 position player in the state of Tennessee for the Class of 2014, said it didn't hurt at all that he had so much familiarity with Ole Miss. But there were other aspects that factored into it.

"I love Ole Miss because my parents went there. But I wasn't going to go there just because my parents went there," said the 6-foot-2, 205-pounder who mainly plays first base. "I love the coaches there. I trust them. I love the program. I love the campus. I want to help them get to Omaha. I want to win a national championship."

Michael was also a football player and a good one. He had played middle linebacker for MUS as a freshman and defensive end as a sophomore. His playing weight last year was at 225, and he was emerging as a standout on the gridiron for the Owls.

But in preseason camp this summer, he decided to pick one sport to move ahead for his final two seasons of high school and beyond, and that is baseball.

"I separated my shoulder during two a days this year, and I also did that during my freshman year," said Fitzsimmons, who was also recruited by Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi State, and Duke. "I couldn't risk my (baseball) future. I'm focused on baseball to see what I can do there. I love hitting people in football. But baseball in the long run is the best decision for me. I love baseball."

Tim Dulin, noted Memphis area baseball authority and director of Dulins Sports Complex, said Fitzsimmons has tremendous upside and is already an accomplished baseball player.

Michael Fitzsimmons
File Photo

"He's made an unbelievable amount of progress as a baseball player the last couple of years," Dulin said. "He's become a really good defender at first (base). He showed real potential this summer in big events with wooden bats. He made the All-Tournament team in several events. He's a leader and I think he's going to be a real good SEC first baseman."

Dulin said Fitzsimmons' work ethic and determination will take him a long way, in addition to his talent.

"I think in the next two years he will just continue to get better," Dulin said. "He's a gym rat. He works at it. He quit playing football. I think he'll have a chance to come in and contribute early as a freshman."

Michael said he believes he's at his best when there are players on base in front of him. His goal is always to drive them home, and he continually works to become even more effective in RBI situations.

"I hit the ball to all parts of the field, and and I hit for average," Michael said. "I hit a lot of doubles and I do produce with runners in scoring position. I guess that's where I shine. With runners on second and third, that's my time to be at the plate and I want to be up there."

His summer was successful. He was named to several all-tournament teams. In a tournament in Knoxville, he was 9-for-11 with four home runs, four doubles, and a single. In a BCS Tournament sponsored by Perfect Game in Florida, Fitzsimmons was named all-tournament and batted .468.

Fitzsimmons still has some things to accomplish before he gets to Ole Miss in two years. And they are important to him.

"I want to win a high school state championship," he said. "We've lost in the state championship twice since I've been in high school. I want to be an UnderArmour All-American. I want to try to be drafted. Not saying I'd go in the draft, but I'd like to be drafted."

Michael turns 17 on Sept. 14. He's been to Ole Miss many times in his life. Now it's going to become an even bigger part of his life.

"I didn't know what I was getting into if I went to the other colleges," he said. "I knew what I was getting into and what I'd get out of Ole Miss. Ole Miss is all I know and it's all I want to know. I'm ready to be a Rebel, and I can't wait to be down there."

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