West Virginia transfer catcher Matt McCormick has committed to Tennessee, the former Freshman All-American told RockyTopInsider Thursday morning.
McCormick committed to Tennessee after visiting Tuesday and Wednesday this week.
“They care about the players,” McCormick said on why Tennessee. “I’ll get developed there if I put the time and effort in. They laid it out for me that I just have to take advantage of all the stuff that they have. … It gives me all the opportunities as a player and a person to get better. Just the coaches, a young group of guys that seemed to know what they were doing and coach Anderson has a lot of experience with the pitching and catching as well.”
McCormick chose Tennessee over SEC foes South Carolina and Texas A&M who he visited earlier this month.
The Orland Park, Illinois native will be a junior this year at Tennessee but will have three years of remaining eligibility due to the NCAA’s COVID-19 eligibility relief. As a third year player he will also be eligible for the 2022 MLB Draft.
As a freshman, McCormick hit .364 with three home runs and 11 RBIs in the COVID-19 shortened season. In 2021, McCormick ranked near the top in every major hitting statistic for the Mountaineers.
The left handed batter was second on the team with a .280 batting average, third with seven home runs, second with a .484 slugging percentage and he led the team with 30 RBIs.
“I think my hitting stood out for them to even contact,” McCormick said. “They probably wouldn’t have even made contact if Pavolony didn’t leave so that and then catching and improving on my defense is an area I can grow.”
The addition of McCormick is massive for Tennessee as the Vols don’t return a single player who caught behind the plate in 2021. The Baltimore Orioles selected Connor Pavolony in the 2021 MLB Draft and both Jackson Greer and Pete Derkay ran out of eligibility.
Still, McCormick knows it will be a position battle with him and rising sophomore Charlie Taylor and incoming freshman Ryan Miller.
“They said they had two other catchers so it’s not like it’s going to be handed to me,” McCormick said. “I’ll definitely have to work for it but hopefully I can take advantage of the opportunity and play.”
Tennessee baseball’s recent success may have sparked interest in the Vols, but it was the coaching staff and not the potentially renovated Lindsey Nelson Stadium that stood out to the sought after catcher.
“I just like coach V and all the coaches,” McCormick said. “They could play on a park district field and I wouldn’t really care.”
“He knew what he was talking about,” McCormick said of Vitello. “He seems like a good dude and obviously he’s a good coach with all he’s done in a short time.”
While Vitello helped seal McCormick’s commitment during his visit to Knoxville, assistant coach Josh Elander paved the way to get McCormick on campus by building a relationship with him.
“He’s been contacting me for a week, week and a half, throughout the whole thing before I visited,” McCormick said of Vols’ assistant Josh Elander. “We got pretty close there and he was a player. He played in the minors and did a bunch of other stuff in college. He was a really good player. We talked during my visit and it just seemed like he knew what he was talking about.”
McCormick’s commitment marks the third transfer Tennessee has landed this offseason, and another player Vitello has landed over SEC foes. Tennessee poached Seth Halvorsen from Missouri and landed Freshman All-American Chase Dollander over Arkansas and Texas Tech.
With the addition of McCormick and the news that a trio of Tennessee seniors will return for one more season, the Vols roster is shaping up to be able to compete with the best in the SEC again in 2022.