2019 RHP Grant Leader Commits to the University of Illinois

Congrats on your new commitment! What is it about the University of Illinois that excites you the most?

The coaching staff was the most important to me.  I really liked the overall philosophies of Coach Hartleb, Coach Dickinson and Coach Christ.  They have such passion for the game and show such care and concern for their players as people.  I was also impressed by the current players and the incoming recruits.  I know some of those guys and am excited to play on the same team.  Lastly, the community is very supportive of the baseball team and I am looking forward to playing for them.

Last year was your first season with Top Tier. What made you choose this program and how has it helped with you reaching your goals of playing at the collegiate level?

I was at a point in my development where I needed to be challenged more.  The coaches at Top Tier really help their players develop a competitive mindset.  I have also really enjoyed the high-level tournaments we play in because of the tough competition.

Talk a little bit about the recruiting process and how everything went down. 

The process started a bit after my first PBR showcase at the end of one summer up in Crystal Lake.  I then had a PBR profile, got invited to the Instructional Camps of America showcase, and then things started to heat up last summer going into my sophomore year.  Starting with the Under Armour Classic, the WWBA in Georgia, the Futures Games, trying out for NTIS and making the NTDP and then finally Ft. Myers, and Jupiter.  It was after all of this that I got my first offer from Northwestern in the beginning of October.  Illinois followed at the end of October and then Michigan most recently.  It took a while to get up to Michigan before making my final decision to attend Illinois.

What were some of the priorities you looked at when deciding where to commit?

The first issue was distance from home.  I had decided to stay in the Big Ten conference because I wanted my family to be able to come and watch me play.  This was a very huge factor in the decision.  Secondly, I wanted to make sure the school had an excellent academic reputation, and then finally how much the coaching staff was interested in helping me develop as a player. 

What challenges do you see ahead of you before you get to campus?

I need to set some new personal goals and there will be pressure to live up to the expectations people have set for me.  I also need to maintain a high level of academic rigor in my school work, continuing to push myself with college-level AP courses.

What are some of the goals you have set for yourself as a college baseball player?

I would like to help my team win the Big Ten Conference, earn trips to Omaha, and strive to be named an Academic and Athletic All-American.

Is there anybody you would like to give a shout-out or thanks to?

I would like to first thank my former coach, Art Lehmann, for helping to develop my skills since age 10.  I would also like to thank Coach Griffin Phelps for showing an interest in me and encouraging me to come over to the Top Tier organization in the first place.  Thanks also to Coach Todd Fine and Coach Matt Plante for continuing to provide me with incredible opportunities to push myself.  Finally, a big thank you to my family who have been very supportive of me throughout my baseball career.

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