Ebert, Dyson return for unfinished business

Drafted college baseball players had until Monday at midnight to decide whether or not they would sign pro baseball contracts or return to school for another year. Gamecock pitcher Sam Dyson and first baseman Nick Ebert were accompanied by Head Coach Ray Tanner as they spoke to the media Tuesday afternoon about their decisions to return and play for South Carolina in the 2010 baseball season.

"It would be an understatement for me to say that I'm happy to have these two gentlemen flanking me here today," Tanner said as Ebert and Dyson sat next to him in front of the media. "To be quite honest, I'm a little bit giddy to be sandwiched between these two guys. I'm excited about our future and really ecstatic that both of them made the decision to return."

The return of Dyson and Ebert boosts the number of experienced veteran players the Gamecocks will have on the roster for the upcoming season.

"We felt like we were going to have a more veteran team going into 2010, but when you bring these two guys back it really changes the complexion of our team a great deal," Tanner emphasized.

While he is thrilled to have them back, Tanner claims that he wasn't surprised to have his starting first baseman and number one starter return for another season.

"Going into the draft, I felt like I really knew these guys well. I knew them as the good student athletes that they are," he said. "(Dyson and Ebert) value their education, they value their experience (at South Carolina), and I think they realized that (delaying turning pro) could wait another year."

Ebert and Dyson stated that having a chance to make it to the College World Series, along with being able to graduate and get their degrees were ultimately too much to pass up.

Dyson will enter his junior season as the Gamecocks' ace starting pitcher, and is second to only LSU's Anthony Ranaudo in wins for returning pitchers in the Southeastern Conference.

"I feel like the reason we came to school was to make it to the College World Series and to try and win it," said the flame-throwing Tampa, Florida native. "We haven't been to (the College World Series before), and I know Ebert and I both want to get there. Hopefully this season we can reach our goal of making it there."

Ebert, a junior from Ocala, Florida, will enter his second season with South Carolina after transferring from Central Florida Community College. He is the second highest returning home run hitter in the nation.

The first baseman echoed his Dyson's remarks about returning to South Carolina with the intention to make it to the College World Series.

"I have to agree with Sam on that," Ebert said. "Just getting the chance to play here at South Carolina another year and the opportunity to get to the College World Series was enough in itself to convince me to come back for another year."

As Ebert put it, not everyone can say they had the chance to play postseason baseball in Omaha, Nebraska.

"Some kids don't ever get the opportunity to make it there and it's every college baseball player's dream to play in Omaha on that big stage," he said with a smile. "Most of the time it's a once in a lifetime chance to make it to the College World Series. I'm blessed to have that opportunity."

Ebert's 23 home runs make him responsible for nearly one-third of the home runs that the entire Gamecock team hit last year. Dyson's return means the Gamecocks will return pitchers who accounted for 20 of the 30 total wins last season on the 2010 roster.

"I'm excited about the season," Tanner stated. "This year we've got a lot of the same starters from last year returning."

Tanner says that he is anxious to see how some of his new players perform, but having veterans return is a bigger plus for the Gamecock coach who enters his 14th season at the helm of the baseball program.

"I'm excited to see some of our new players, but you can't put a price on veteran experience and guys who are proven good players."

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