Tennessee offer 'felt like home'

Any baseball coach or scout will tell you that teams are built from the inside-out. It all starts with the battery and having a talented catcher behind the plate can be advantageous. Sign in or subscribe now to see what Memphis-area product committed to Tennessee.

Between the brand that is the University of Tennessee within state borders and the hiring of one of the brightest coaching minds in college baseball in Dave Serrano, Volunteer baseball is starting to quickly fill up its allotment of recruits for the Class of 2012.

For Michael Parrish Jr., all it took was a phone call and a meeting for him to give his commitment to Tennessee and Serrano.

"(Serrano) had called me and offered me when I was in Atlanta when he saw me play," Parrish told InsideTennessee.com. "Then, we were just trying to figure out a time when I could get down there because I wasn't going to commit until I met him. Both my parents and I wanted to meet him and the staff.

"I had gotten a couple offers before, but when I got the offer from Tennessee, it felt like home kind of because that's where my dad had been. I heard a lot about coach Serrano coming in and so much of a good reputation he has with baseball. I just could not wait to get down there and see him and talk to him."

Parrish said that his future coach seemed pleased to be getting the Evangelical Christian School catcher.

"He was really really happy for me," Parrish said. "He wanted me to commit, and I wanted to commit too. He said he's been looking for a catcher, and he likes to keep the in-state guys at Tennessee."

Parrish had what could be sarcastically referred to as a "ho-hum" TSSAA Division II Class A state tournament back in May. He helped the Eagles go undefeated in their three games played in La Vergne and Murfreesboro by going 5 for 12 with two home runs, seven RBIs and a triple.

The ability to barrel balls up when on center stage is a trait that Parrish hopes carries over to Southeastern Conference play as he tries to get the Vols back to the College World Series.

"Definitely people notice state champions for sure. Colleges want people who win," he said.

The 6-foot-1, 180-pounder said he will sign with Tennessee on Nov. 9. He also had scholarship offers from Ole Miss, Tulane and UAB.

Parrish would like to pack on some muscle between now and his first game for the Orange and White in 2013.

"I think I've got the frame for (adding weight)," he said. "I've tried really hard. I'm one of those guys that it's hard for to gain weight. They always say that once you get to college they know how to put the weight on you. I'm hoping to get up to around 200."

There's a good chance that Parrish will have some familiarity with teammates the moment he gets on campus in Knoxville. He played with Dulin's Dogers this summer, which is also the summer organization for which 2011 signee Mookie Betts and 2012 commitment Drake Owenby play.

"I love Mookie," Parrish said. "He's really really nice and just easy to be around. One of the most humble guys you'll ever meet, especially with his talent level."

He faced the left-handed pitching Owenby recently.

"I actually hit against him once in Memphis. He was dealing. He was chunking it pretty good," Parrish said.

If Serrano and his staff want to continue snagging the top in-state talent, they must fend off opposing schools in the Memphis area, which is no easy task.

One player already committed to an SEC foe is Brady Bramlett of Arlington High School, which is less than 20 minutes from Evangelical Christian. The 6-4, 225-pound right-handed pitcher is verbally committed to Ole Miss. Bramlett also played some for the Dodgers this summer.

Can the Vols get Bramlett to change his mind?

"I don't know about that, but if we could … it's worth a shot," Parrish said.

"I've met him. He's a really really nice guy. I like him a lot. He's a heck of a pitcher, that's for sure."

Evangelical Christian teammate Will Jamison was selected in the 45th round of the MLB Draft by the Cleveland Indians. Even if the pros come calling, Parrish said he has his heart set on attending Tennessee.

"I definitely want to play in college first," he said. "I mean everybody says that. As of right now, there's no way I would decide to go pro before going to college. The whole college experience and playing in the SEC. I would get a lot better playing before going. I'd be more prepared."

If that debate comes to be, the Parrish family will address it. For now, the 17-year-old simply wants to enjoy his youth before seeing every prep pitcher's best his senior season under coach Ryan Porter.

"I'm sure people will want to paint a target on my back I guess," Parrish said. "Hopefully nothing changes. I just want to focus on this senior year and have a lot of fun. When Tennessee rolls around, I'll start focusing there. As of right now I'm just focusing on this last year and going out and getting a state championship."

He is on track to qualify academically, carrying a 3.6 GPA with an ACT score of 21. He has not sealed up his plans for a major but is leaning toward either dentistry or education.

Michael is the son of Becky and Dr. Mike Parrish, who attended Tennessee.

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