It's no secret that over the course of the final eight games of the 2005 season, Clemson outfielder Tyler Colvin was in a brutal slump. He managed just four hits in his final 31 at-bats as the Tigers went 4-4 down the stretch and missed making the College World Series by a single game.
Frustrated to no end by his performance, Colvin literally left everything on the field. Baseball was the last thing he wanted to think about following the disappointing end to his sophomore year.
"I took most of the summer off and didn't even swing," he said. "I just tried to clear everything from my head. At the end of last season, I wasn't hitting well and I wasn't feeling very good about it. I just wanted to move on."
Upon his return to Clemson to start the fall semester, Colvin picked up his bat and a renewed dedication to making himself better to ensure what transpired at the end of the 2005 season wouldn't happen again.
His determination and stick-to-itiveness has definitely paid off. Through the first part of the 2006 campaign, Colvin has seen his average and power take a significant rise. After the first six games of the season, he was incredibly only one home run shy of reaching his 2005 total of five.
It was known that somebody on the team had to try and compensate for the loss of designated hitter Kris Harvey, who led the nation last year with 25 home runs and opted to forego his senior season and sign with the Florida Marlins.
However, it wasn't expected that it would be Colvin making up for Harvey's production during the first part of the season.
Colvin's transformation into "power hitter" didn't come easy. He put in the time and effort needed to do such a thing. There was also some experimenting along the way.
Colvin, who stands 6-foot-3 and weighs 190 pounds, hit the weight room with as much fury and dedication as any athlete on campus, as well as spending countless hours in the batting cages beyond right-center field tinkering with his swing.
"Once I came back from the break this summer, I said that I was going to get it together and find my swing," he said. "Over the winter, I just really worked on getting kind of lean. I did as much as anybody in the weight room. I stayed in there a little longer and worked a little harder and tuned up my swing a lot."
Colvin, a junior, started noticing positive results slowly but surely during the fall. Quicker wrists and a slight alteration in his stance made all the difference in the world.
"Basically, the only thing I really changed is that I'm standing more upright now than I was last year, and I'm really following through with my swing a lot more than I was last year," he said. "Coach (Jack) Leggett is always stressing, ‘short to it, long through it.' I was a doubles guy last year. This year, I'm just putting a little extra on it."
That is an understatement.
The North Augusta, S.C. native entered the 2006 season with 117 games played and had hit only seven homers. He hit more than half of that in the first two weeks this year.
Even in high school, he didn't hit many bombs.
"I really didn't hit home runs in high school," Colvin said. "I had good power and everything, but my swing was tuned to driving the ball toward the fence and hitting the holes, get on base and steal bases. That was my main focus until this year, when I got stronger. Now I can do it all."
Fans and reporters alike have been somewhat stunned by his sudden power output. Colvin, however, just acts as though it's not big deal.
"Honestly, no, I'm not surprised," he said. "After the way I worked and during the fall, I hit really well, and I got to actually see what I could do with my new swing."
Another person not shocked by the situation is Leggett, who has seen the transformation of Colvin from the very beginning the fall semester.
"Tyler was one of our most improved players in the fall," Leggett said. "He has gotten a lot stronger. He has a chance to hit for a lot more power this year."
However, even though Colvin's home run numbers have increased, he's still more of a gap and doubles hitter.
"That's when I really feel good, when I can drive the ball to left-center field," he said. "I'm locked in when you see the ball hitting the gaps."
And that's something Leggett is happy to hear. He doesn't want Colvin trying to hit the ball out. If he concentrates on just stroking it into the gaps, the homeruns will come, which they have.
"His game is really as a slash hitter and hitting the ball into the gaps, along with running aggressively on the bases," Leggett said. "He's an excellent defensive player, and he has a good feel for the bunt game. He has the total package."
It still remains to be seen what will transpire throughout the remainder of the season, but if nothing else, Colvin has gained a sense of confidence, which was sorely lacking at the end of last year.
"I just tried to feel comfortable with my swing," he said. "I don't know what I did, but it's here."