KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — After last season Evan Russell wasn’t sure he was going to return to Tennessee for his Super Senior season, but a conversation with Tennessee head coach Tony Vitello changed his mind.
“Without him I don’t know if I’d still be playing,” said Russell. “I don’t know if I would have continued to stay at Tennessee.”
Russell has professional baseball aspirations and a move to catcher could open that door and while Vitello was skeptical of the move at first, he gave Evan the ok to give it a shot.
“He was telling me I was going to have an opportunity but it probably wasn’t going to work out, I was probably going to end up back in left field,” Russell said.
So far the new position has worked out, Russell is getting to work with one of the top pitching staffs in college baseball, including reliever Ben Joyce who throws 104 mph.
“It’s fast, it’s pretty awesome,” said Russell. “Ben Joyce is a perfect example of hard work and talent. He’s 6’4 230 pounds of pure muscle.”
One of the biggest reasons Russell decided to return to Rocky Top was a chance at redemption after dropping both games at last year’s College World Series.
“For us to not give them (Vols fans) the showing that we wanted, it kind of left a bad taste in our mouth for this whole year,” said Russell. “If we make it back, you’re going to get our best effort this time.”