Baseball: Huntley’s Bryce Only commits to Nebraska
By Gene Chamberlain For Sun-Times Media April 3, 2012 6:42PM
Updated: April 4, 2012 10:58PM
Bryce Only has been a fixture on baseball diamonds and basketball courts in The Courier-News area for three years, and now he knows where and what he’ll be doing during his four years of college.
Only committed Tuesday to play baseball on scholarship at Nebraska. He watched the Cornhuskers play twice over the weekend against Northwestern and came away impressed with head Cornhuskers coach Darin Erstad and his program.
“I loved watching them play,” the Red Raiders junior said. “They played with a lot of energy and a lot of passion like (Huntley) coach ‘J’ (Andy Jakubowski) preaches.”
Erstad, a star with the California Angels from 1996-2006, told Only he could see action virtually right away.
“They are looking for a third baseman to play starting with the 2013-14 season, which was something that definitely had an impact on my decision,” Only said. “That was something I was hoping for.”
Western Kentucky, Bethune-Cookman and Delaware State were also possibilities for Only before he decided on the Big Ten school.
The fact Only got the chance to play Big Ten ball came as no surprise to Jakubowski.
“I’m excited for him because of all the hard work and time and effort he’s put in to make himself successful,” Jakubowski said. “He always shows up for practice with a smile on his face, comes early and stays late.
“He’s really matured as a ballplayer. His hands have gotten a lot better on the defensive end and offensively he’s going to the gap in right-center more and seeing all the fields. When you get that kind of combination good things happen.”
Only hit seven home runs and drove in 36 last year.
“I feel like I’m off to a better start this year than in the past because I’ve been putting in a lot of off-season work and extra work, 30 extra minutes hitting three or four times a week,” he said.
Only also credited his work with the Racine Hitters travel team as key to his improvement.
“It’s taken my game to another level with all the competition we’ve played against,” he said.
At Nebraska, Only hopes to study business management.
Only is the second Division I player on this year’s Red Raiders squad. Teammate Colin Lyman had already committed to Louisville.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if we had four or five more playing at the next level,” Only said. “Justin Gundlach, Bryan Doherty, Craig Klein all could be playing and our catcher, Tyler Mindak is one of the best in the area, too.”
At Nebraska, Only will be limited to baseball after playing a big role in the Red Raiders making two straight sectionals in basketball.
“I’m definitely going to miss it,” he said of basketball. “During spring, summer and fall it will be strictly baseball. It will be different. I love basketball but baseball is my sport.”