Stallings, a 6-4, 175 pound catcher from Nashville (Tenn.) Brentwood Academy, committed to play for UNC head coach Mike Fox and staff over hometown favorite Vanderbilt.
Although Stallings received strong national interest, he admitted to narrowing his choices down very early in the process. “The whole time it was pretty much between Vanderbilt and North Carolina,” Stallings said.
The decision wasn’t an easy one as he was raised inside the Vanderbilt basketball program. His father, Kevin Stallings, is in his ninth year as head hoops coach of the Commodores.
But his father has ties to North Carolina as well, as a former assistant to Roy Williams at Kansas from 1988-93 and the two remain in close contact today. Additionally, two of the elder Stallings’ assistant coaches are former Tar Heels -- King Rice and Brad Frederick.
“Before I went [to visit UNC, Rice and Frederick] told me all of this cool stuff,” Jacob said. “Coach [Roy] Williams called me during the whole process and he really gave me a good idea of it was like to be a student-athlete there and that really appealed to me.”
Brentwood Academy head coach Buddy Alexander said, “I think that Jacob had pretty much targeted Vanderbilt, that was the obvious choice and I know Coach [Tim] Corbin and his staff love him and I know he still works out there with their coaches and players. Everybody around here was surprised he didn’t go to Vanderbilt. But I think Jacob and his parents really did a good job of evaluating what was the best for Jacob.”
Stallings’ upbringing and basketball connections aside, the determining factors in making his collegiate decision were the comfort level he had with the Carolina coaching staff as well as the potential opportunity to play in the College World Series.
“I came on an official visit in the summer and hung out with Coach Holbrook, Coach Forbes, and Coach Fox all day and that was a lot of fun I really enjoyed that,” he said. “I like the campus a lot and really it’s just hard to argue with two straight national runner-ups.”
Stallings’ official visit wasn’t the first time he visited Chapel Hill. In fact, his entire basketball team came to the Smith Center last year watch one of their former teammates, Brandan Wright.
“I think he enjoyed the [basketball] team trip to see Brandan Wright and I think he got a good feel for the school,” Alexander said. “Brandan really liked it and I think that helped with him, too.”
Stallings is ranked by Perfect Game as the No. 4 prospect in Tennessee. “I love to catch and throw, I mean that’s what I really do best,” he said. “I’m trying to get better as a hitter. I’ve only been playing catcher for five years or so but I’ve always loved to throw behind guys. I would say my arm is my best asset as a player.”
Mike Fox agrees, “Jacob is exactly what we want in a catcher. He can really catch and throw and he also handles the bat very well.”
Although recruited by UNC as a catcher, Stallings also played pitcher, third base, and first base for Brentwood Academy last season.
“He’s versatile,” Alexander said. “He’s got a plus-plus arm and everybody in our league knows that as well as pro scouts, I mean he’s really got a bazooka back there. Obviously that helps in shutting down the running game. He’s just a good athlete. We got a little bumped up at the end of the year with injuries and all of a sudden we had to use him as a starter. He won five straight games including a state tournament game. He was just a dominant pitcher during the last part of the season. He’s played first for us and I was really just protecting his arm by doing that but he’s very good over there at 6-4. He also has good hands, so he’s played third for us too.”
Despite his overall level of talent, there are a handful of things in which Stallings intends to improve before his arrival at UNC. “I’m going to work on hitting and to try and get better fundamentally,” Stallings said. “Strength is another key issue. I’m kind of a skinny guy and not really your prototypical catcher. I’m going to work out with my dad’s players this summer and I think that will help me a little bit.”
Like the rest of his future teammates in the 2008 class, Stallings has one thing on his mind when he gets to Carolina. “All me and Coach Holbrook talk about is catching the last strike in Omaha,” he said. “That’s my one goal and if I could do that I’d be a pretty happy camper.”
|TAR HEEL BASEBALL RECRUITING BOARD
||Forest City (N.C.) East Rutherford
||Seaford (Del.) High
||Henderson (Nev.) Green Valley
||Washington (D.C.) St. John
||Annandale (N.J.) North Hunterdon
||Clemmons (N.C.) West Forsyth
||Wentzville (Mo.) Holt
||Hudson (N.C.) South Caldwell
||Medford (N.J.) Shawnee
||Nashville (Tenn.) Brentwood
||Creedmoor (N.C.) South Granville
||Rocky Mount (N.C.) High
||Lexington (N.C.) North Davidson
||Lewisville (N.C.) Forsyth Country Day