Advertise with usContact UsRTI Team

Walters State Standout Talks Commitment To Tennessee

Walters State standout Colby Backus committed to Tennessee baseball Thursday in the midst of a dominant redshirt-freshman season in Morristown.

Backus — a former Daniel Boone High School standout — is one of the top hitters on Walter State’s top-ranked NJCAA D1 team. The outfielder chose the Vols over interest from Auburn, Radford and Illinois State.

“I just felt like that was the best place for me to develop to my potential,” Backus said of Tennessee. “I’m looking to go in there and compete for a trophy in Omaha.”

Backus started talking to Tennessee a few weeks ago and has mostly been in contact with pitching coach Frank Anderson who has come to watch the outfielder and teammate Caleb McNeely play a handful of times.

The 6-foot-5, 235 pound outfielder made the short trek to Knoxville for a visit ahead of the Vols’ series with Alabama and it didn’t take him long to decide Tennessee was the place for him.

“I got down there for the last part of their practice and it was cool to see how there’s no downtime,” Backus said. “Everyone was moving, a lot of moving parts. I met all the coaches, talked with coach Vitello and they took me around the campus— love the facilities and all the different things that I’d get and I thought it would help me develop.”

The visit allowed Backus to have extended conversations with his now-future head coach. Like most who meet Tony Vitello, Backus was struck by his passion for baseball and competing.

“It fires me up to see how passionate he is for the game,” Backus said of Vitello. “I know some people see that and think it’s a little bit too much, but it shows how much he cares. … It just shows how he has his players backs. He’s going to fight for you no matter what.”

Backus is in his second season at Walters State, redshirting his freshman season after undergoing left labrum surgery at the end of his senior year of high school

“Was able to work with the coaches and kind of mature a little bit,” Backus said of his redshirt year. “Figure out my approach and what worked, and got to this year and haven’t looked back since.”

The results speak for themselves. Backus has been fantastic this season, hitting a team-high .410 with 13 home runs and 56 RBIs in 47 games played. The right-hander has an impressive 1.228 OPS thanks in large part to his 28 extra-base hits.

Photo by Rob Harvey/ Citizens Tribune

The strength of Backus’ game is as simple as that, his ability to hit for both contact and power.

“I just like to hit. I think there’s no better feeling than hitting the ball square,” Backus said.

Tennessee will undergo serious personnel change in its outfield after this season. Preseason All-SEC selections Drew Gilbert and Jordan Beck — who have lived up to their billing — will head to professional baseball following this season. 

The Vols aren’t short on outfield talent but there will be an opportunity for Backus to come in and make an early impact.

Similar Articles


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Tweet Us