Tennessee baseball picked up a commitment from Knoxville native and East Tennessee State transfer catcher Jackson Greer on Sunday afternoon. The former Central Bobcat announced his decision on Twitter, choosing the Vols over Arkansas, Kansas State, and NC State.
Greer, a graduate transfer, was set to finish out his ETSU career this past season until the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic brought the college baseball season to a screeching halt. He made the decision on April 8th to enter his name into the transfer portal. The right-hander has one season of eligibility remaining and will use it at UT.
I’m Coming Home!! ⚾️? #GoVols pic.twitter.com/vPjyjxTaPK
— Jay 5000 (@jackson_greer23) April 26, 2020
“I think I surprised him (Tennessee coach Tony Vitello) a little bit with my decision,” Greer said. “I just feel like the coaching staff is a little younger and can relate better to me and my development. I only have one year, and I have to get after it.”
The 6-foot-3, 225-pound catcher broke out during the 2019 season. As a redshirt junior, Greer started all 55 games, 41 of which were behind the dish. He led the Bucs with a .314 batting average, 65 hits, 15 doubles, 10 home runs, 42 RBI, 112 total bases, a .541 slugging percentage, and a .434 on-base percentage on his way to earning first team all-conference honors. He was even hit by a pitch on 16 different occasions, which ranks second in ETSU baseball history for most hit by pitches in a season.
Greer was just as effective catching behind the plate with a glove as he was with a bat in his hand. He was a Rawlings Gold Glove nominee with a .994 fielding percentage that included 324 putouts, 26 assists, and just two errors. Greer gunned down 12 runners.
In the 15 games prior to the 2020 season being canceled, Greer hit .259 with four home runs and 10 RBI. Against Tennessee on March 10th, which proved to be the final game of the season for both squads, Greer was 1-for-4 at the plate with a home run. He was a combined 3-for-7 in two games against the Vols during his breakout season in 2019.
Greer said Vitello reached out to him as soon as he put his name in the NCAA transfer portal.
“Coach Vitello texted me as soon as I went in the portal,” Greer explained. “We just got to talking. It was crazy. The whole recruiting process, at first, was exciting. As time went on, coaches keep hitting you up, you already have the schools you like in mind, you just want it to be over with once you have your top five or so.”
Greer became ETSU’s starting catcher as a redshirt sophomore in 2018. He made 38 starts that season, hitting .235 with six doubles, 26 RBI, 28 runs, and a .476 slugging percentage. Greer was also outstanding behind the plate, gunning down 20-of-47 baserunners attempting to steal He committed only two errors.
After redshirting in 2016, Greer appeared in 16 games with eight starts behind the plate in 2017 as a redshirt freshman. In his first collegiate at-bat, he hit a solo home run.
Greer was rated by PerfectGame as the sixth-best catcher in the state of Tennessee coming out of Central High School in Knoxville, which is the same high school as Vol great Todd Helton.
Tennessee was 15-2 and a consensus top 25 program by every major collegiate baseball poll when the season was canceled due to the ongoing pandemic. The Vols add Greer to a roster that will return nearly all of its key pieces from its potential magical run in 2020.
Greer will join sophomore catcher Connor Pavolony behind the plate, which could quite possibly be the best catching duo in the entire country. Following Greer’s breakout season in 2019, Pavolony was in the midst of his own breakout season this year. Pavolony was hitting .342 at the plate in 12 game when the season came to an end. He also had three home runs and drove in 12 runs. D1Baseball deemed him the 17th-best sophomore hitter in the country.
The newest Tennessee catcher is looking forward to playing with the Vols’ returning catcher and building off each other’s game.
“I feel like we can both learn from each other,” Greer explained. “We’re both going to be in the lineup at the end of the day. That’s all that matters to me.”
Though he started his college career at ETSU, playing at Tennessee has always been something Greer has dreamed of. Now, he gets to live out that dream in the 2021 season.
“Always been a dream to play for UT. That was a deciding factor, too,” Greer said. “The family isn’t spending thousands of dollars to travel to watch me play a year. They can sleep in their own bed. I’m a family man, and it helps them out, too.
“It’s a dream come true. No words can express how I’m feeling.”