Tuesday, August 7, 2012

RMHS' Johnson picks High Point U.

Rocky Mount rising senior Jeremy Johnson
Rocky Mount High School has had at least one baseball player sign to play Div. I college baseball the last three years.

You can make that four, come this fall.

Gryphon pitcher and rising senior Jeremy Johnson has made a verbal commitment to play baseball at High Point University. He will sign a National Letter-of-Intent with the Panthers in November.

He will follow in the recent D-I footsteps of Brian Goodwin (UNC), Ben Fish (Campbell), Hobbs Johnson (UNC) and Benton Moss (UNC). Johnson made his decision last week.

"Overall, High Point had everything that I was looking for in a school,"  said the lefty pitcher who went 4-4 and struck out 80 batters for an offensively anemic Gryphon squad. "It had great academics, a great baseball program with a great coaching staff and a great atmosphere for me to be successful in college. The school had what I was looking for and my family and I felt very comfortable about my decision."

High Point, a school with an enrollment of around 4,500, went 28-31 in baseball last season and is a member of the Big South Conference.

Not only was Johnson the top pitcher on Rocky Mount's staff (career record of 10-7 with 130 Ks), he led them at the plate as well.

He paced the team in batting (.342), hits (27) and runs scored (19). He was second on team in RBIs - a bit unusual for player in the lead-off position.

"I made an early decision because I found exactly what I wanted in a school, " said Johnson, who narrowed his choices down to Army, Western Carolina and High Point before picking the Panthers. "It has a good Div.  I program and when I visited the campus, I felt right at home. My family and I talked it over that night about the other schools and the benefits of each one and in the end, we realized that making an early decision about High Point was the best option for me."

When Johnson wasn't playing for the Gryphons, he was playing travel ball with the Impact Baseball's Dirtbags squad. All the coaches he's had along the way have brought him to where he is now.

"Everyone throughout my high school career has helped me in making this decision," said Johnson, who played center field when he wasn't on the mound. "All my coaches from Coach Pitch, Showcase (Andy Partin and the Dirtbags) and high school (Kent Cox). have helped me develop into the player I am today. My whole family and friends have been supportive of me through the decision-making process and it's been a blessing to have such a great support group."

Cox, his head coach at Rocky Mount, wished his 2012 team could have given him more run support.

"Jeremy is a fine pitcher and a fine young man," said Cox, who just completed his third season with the Gryphons. "I couldn't be happier for him. I just wish our team last season could have put more runs on the board for him. He did the best he could for us on the mound and at the plate. If we had gotten some better offensive production, there's no telling how good a junior season he would have had."

"He was our No. 1 guy and he faced every tough opponent we had last season," Cox said. "If we had helped him, just a little bit, we all could have been more successful."

Johnson hopes to make a contribution to the Panthers right away.

"When I get to High Point, I will be a middle relief guy," Johnson said. "They liked me because I go after hitters and I get outs. I'm not going to overpower guys with my fastball. With me, it's about locating and executing all of my pitches to have success."

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