How a baseball offer helped make four-star recruit Sawyer Robertson Mississippi State's highest-rated quarterback commit in over 15 years

 

Upon his pledge to Mississippi State Tuesday, Sawyer Robertson became MSU’s highest-rated quarterback commitment since 2003.

Upon his pledge to Mississippi State Tuesday, Sawyer Robertson became MSU’s highest-rated quarterback commitment since 2003. Photo by: Photo courtesy of Sawyer Robertson

 

Ben Portnoy

 

 

STARKVILLE -- Baseball has long been a plausible route for four-star quarterback Sawyer Robertson's athletic aspirations.

 

The son of Stan Robertson, a first round pick of the Montreal Expos in the 1990 MLB June Amateur Draft, baseball was in his blood.

 

"Your dad's probably your biggest role model for a kid, and so I wanted to be like that," he told The Dispatch Wednesday. "That was kind of my goal."

 

 

And while his prowess on the football field earned him scholarship offers from 16 Division I schools nationwide, it's the baseball component of Robertson's athletic acumen that played a key role in his commitment to Mississippi State Tuesday night.

 

"He does it better than a lot of people do," Coronado High School baseball coach Gary Hix said of Robertson's ability on the diamond. "And, you know, I still think he's got a chance for growth and he's gonna get better."

 

After joining the varsity squad at Coronado High School in Lubbock, Texas partway through his freshman campaign, Robertson hit roughly .490 in his first inaugural campaign before an injury to his non-throwing arm sidelined him as a sophomore.

 

Recognizing his talent, Texas Tech head baseball coach Tim Tadlock -- the father of Coronado High School teammate Ben Tadlock -- offered Robertson a spot with the Red Raiders back in 2019. Recruiting interest from TCU, Texas, Florida State and USC, among others, followed.

 

As Robertson's courtship from college baseball programs grew, so too did his opportunities on the gridiron.

 

After switching from All Saints Episcopal School to Irons Middle School as an eighth-grader, Robertson was reluctantly allowed to play football despite his mother Angela's apprehension. A pitcher by trade, quarterback was a natural position fit -- though it took time to retool his throwing motion from baseball to football.

 

"He struggled throwing a spiral," Coronado football coach Seth Parr quipped. "He always threw it like a curveball, but he was always accurate and he was always on time."

 

Learning the air raid-based system Parr ran at the high school level as an eighth grader, Robertson was a natural fit at under center. His calm demeanor and maturity as a teammate meshed with the leadership components that befell a quarterback. The arm talent and athleticism aided his effort.

 

After throwing just 14 passes as a freshman, Robertson completed 313 of 483 throws for 3,564 yards and 43 touchdowns to just seven interceptions as a sophomore.

 

Following a standout junior year in which he threw for 3,914 yards and 44 touchdowns, he settled on a final list of Mississippi State, USC and Texas.

 

Visits to each, plus jaunts to Florida State and TCU, ensued.

 

Trekking to Mississippi State and Texas on March 1st and 2nd, Robertson sat down with coaches at both schools.

 

In Austin, the family had quickly developed a repore with new Texas offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich -- who made Sawyer his first offer as a coach at UT upon his hiring in December and has vowed to continue recruiting him through National Signing Day.

 

That said, doubt about whether Robertson could play both football and baseball at Texas crept in. Longhorn coaches were frank in that playing quarterback is unlike any other position on the field. The learning curve can be steep. Baseball could be a potential distraction.

 

The Texas staff was willing to work with Robertson on the baseball component, sure, but football could suffer some too.

 

"I think it was a 'Hey, let's just see how things go. We're not saying no, but we're saying odds are really against it,'" Stan Robertson recalled of the conversation.

 

At MSU, coaches offered comparable thoughts on Robertson playing both sports, but a comfort in Starkville remained.

 

Working through a handful of plays with the MSU coaching staff during his visit, the jargon and concepts were virtually identical to Parr's offense at Coronado.

 

Further, there was a longstanding familiarity between Robertson and head coach Mike Leach. After originally recruiting Robertson when he was still the head coach at Washington State, it took Leach only a week into his tenure at MSU to re-offer the Lubbock product.

 

"From Washington State to Mississippi State, they recruited him hard," Parr said. "And (he) received something everyday from those guys."

 

A trip to Los Angeles one week later also kept the Trojans in the mix as former Texas Tech quarterback and current USC offensive coordinator Graham Harrell sold Robertson on the air raid-style offense he'd be instituting in Hollywood -- one that mimicked the one Leach ran in Lubbock.

 

As the football coaching contingents made their offers, so too did MSU baseball coach Chris Lemonis. Calling the prolific outfielder-turned-quarterback in recent weeks, Lemonis and hitting coach Jake Gautreau pitched Robertson on the bright lights of Dudy Noble Field.

 

"The fact that he got phone calls from both of the coaches -- the head coach, as well as the assistant coach -- there at Mississippi State, that probably had a lot more to do with this than I think anybody will probably give it credit," Stan Robertson said.

 

With the familiarity he already had with Leach and the football staff coupled with an opportunity to play baseball in the Southeastern Conference, Robertson announced his commitment to MSU Tuesday night via Twitter.

 

"I guess one of the biggest things was the numbers that (Leach's quarterbacks) put up, year-in and year-out," he said of why he chose the Bulldogs. "In my opinion, there's no better place for a quarterback to go and the baseball program is second to none."

 

Upon his pledge, Robertson became MSU's highest-rated quarterback commitment since 2003. And while it remains to be seen whether he'll play baseball throughout his time in Starkville, a larger goal remains -- reaching the professional ranks.

 

"He's always told me that his ambition was not just to finish at the college level," Hix said. "He wants to go to the next level as well, just like his dad did."

 

 

 

Ben Portnoy reports on Mississippi State sports for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter at @bportnoy15.

 

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