The 2017 campaign was set to be Tyler Spring's first season at Alabama and there was already a buzz surrounding the 6-foot-4, 202-pound right-hander.
“I was really excited about the new season and I was having some pro talk with the draft,” he said.
Just prior to taking the mound for the Crimson Tide, Spring had a major setback. He suffered an injury to his right elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery.
“It was two weeks before the season started,” Spring said Tuesday. “It was definitely tough. I just tried to stay with it and keep positive.”
That upbeat approach and hard work are paying off for Spring.
The Jones County Junior College pitcher and former Stone High standout announced Tuesday that he is verbally committing to Mississippi State.
MSU pursued Spring during his freshman year at JCJC before he signed with Alabama in November of 2016. Spring, who returned to JCJC following his injury, heard again from the Mississippi State staff two weeks ago.
He received an offer from MSU interim coach Gary Henderson on an official visit to Starkville on Monday.
“I called back last night and committed,” Spring said.
Spring was released to throw again soon enough to take the mound to begin the 2018 season at JCJC. So far, the results have been impressive. He has a 3-1 record with a 1.24 ERA in six starts. In 29 innings, he has 38 strikeouts and 19 walks.
Spring's fastball was in the mid 80's during his senior year of high school and it made a quick jump to 92 during his freshman campaign at JCJC. As a freshman at JCJC, he had a 2-3 record and a 3.00 ERA in 48 innings to help to the Bobcats claim the NJCAA Div. II World Series.
Spring said Tuesday that his fastball is sitting at 90-92 and sometimes touching 93 miles per hour.
After having to watch from the dugout for a year, Spring believes his biggest improvement has come in his mental approach to the game.
“I believe it comes down to maturity, having to sit out that extra year,” he said. “Having to go through rehab, I got my shoulder strong and that helped out a lot. I got released to start working out again and I hit the weight room hard. I put on 15 to 20 pounds.”
The MSU baseball program is in a state of uncertainty after head coach Andy Cannizaro was fired early this season, forcing Henderson to take over. While it's unclear who will be leading the Bulldogs next season, Spring believes he has found a good fit regardless.
“Meeting with the coaches yesterday, I really enjoyed it. I liked them,” Spring said. “Whatever happens, happens. I believe I'm good enough in my ability that I'll still have a spot with the new coach if that happens.”