Earlier this week, Southaven (Miss.) High School pitcher Vance Tatum had a good idea of where he wanted to play college baseball. On Friday, the 2013 prospect got to deliver that news in person to the Mississippi State coaching staff.
During today's unofficial visit to MSU, the 6-foot-4 and 180-pound southpaw committed to the Diamond Dogs and became head coach John Cohen's sixth commitment for the Class of 2013. Tatum joins fellow MSU 2013 verbals infielder/pitcher Reid Humphreys of Northwest Rankin, infielder/pitcher Derek Martin of Tri-County Academy, pitcher Austin Sexton of Sparkman (Ala.), pitcher Dakota Hudson of Dunlap, Tenn., and infielder Brent Rooker of Cordova, Tenn.
"It was a pretty neat experience today," said Tatum. "I was on an unofficial visit and was sitting in Coach Cohen's office. Me and my family have been talking about this decision for awhile and I was sitting there talking with Cohen Cohen in his office. So I told him I wanted to play for Mississippi State. Coach Cohen and Coach (Butch) Thompson both got pretty excited and everyone was happy."
Tatum also held offers from Memphis and Tulane and said he was also receiving interest from Ole Miss, Southern Miss and Air Force. He noted that MSU's atmosphere and tradition played a role in his decision along with the Bulldogs' future on the diamond.
"I love the atmosphere there and I really have a good relationship with Coach Cohen and Coach Thompson," said Tatum. "Every one I talk to has said that Coach Thompson develops pitchers well and that he is a great coach to pitch for. I also think Mississippi State has a good chance to host regionals and super regionals and get to Omaha. Having the chance to play for a program that can compete nationally and pitch in the SEC is a big thing for me."
Tatum, who plays summer ball with the Memphis Tigers, posted some impressive numbers as a junior. This past spring en route to all-state honors, Tatum was 8-1 on the mound with a lowly 0.67 earned run average and he threw eight complete games. In 62.1 innings of work, Tatum struck out 95 batters and issued just eight walks.
"I am not exactly sure but the way the (MSU) coaches talked to me, they like me more as a starting pitcher," said Tatum. "This summer has gone well so far and I really haven't tried to change much of what I am doing on the mound. I throw a fastball that tops out at 89 (mph) and also a changeup and curveball."
And now Tatum can enter his senior year with no recruiting pressure of worries about where he will play at the next level.
"Mississippi State started talking to me the spring of my sophomore year," said Tatum. "So we've developed a good personal relationship for a long time and have built a good bond. My family is very pumped about my decision and I made the right decision and love my decision to play for Mississippi State."