Broadneck star makes tough college decision


September 13, 1992|By Pat O'Malley

What does a student-athlete have to do to get noticed?

Be Athlete of the Year and All-County in three sports and have an impeccable winner's attitude?

Sometimes believe it or not, all of that is not enough.

Take Broadneck grad Jeff Vincent, the 1991-1992 Anne Arundel County Sun Male Athlete of the Year, The Sun's All-Metro shortstop and an All-County selection in soccer, basketball and baseball.

Vincent is one of the finest athletes to ever pass through this county yet no one was interested in him at the collegiate level with the exception of Anne Arundel Community College and "Johnny come lately" UMBC.

Earlier this year, AACC baseball coach Clayton Jacobson offered Vincent a scholarship and Vincent signed a letter of intent.

Then along came NCAA Division I UMBC coach John Jancuska in August at the state American Legion Tournament in Hagerstown, and Vincent changed his mind.

Vincent started school this week at UMBC and begins fall baseball tomorrow.

"It was a tough decision, because I had decided to go to Anne Arundel," said Vincent.

"Mr. Jancuska talked to me in Hagerstown, and I was surprised when he did. I had a week to think it over and decided UMBC was best for me. I called Mr. Jacobson and told him that I had a chance to go to UMBC and that I had decided to do that, and he wished me luck."

Vincent was in Hagerstown with Severna Park American Legion Post 175, the Anne Arundel County Legion champion. He played short and second and pitched for Severna Park this summer after a banner senior year at Broadneck.

At Broadneck, Vincent was 4-2 on the mound with an ERA of 2.08 and batted .437 with a school-record four home runs and 19 RBI to run his school career-record total to 47. The speedy 6-foot, 170-pounder set career and season records in runs scored (55, 28), hits (75, 31), doubles (20, eight) and stolen bases (40, 18).

After pitching and batting the fourth-seeded Bruins to a stunning 5-4 upset of top-seeded Severna Park in the 4A Region IV playoffs, Vincent was named Broadneck's MVP, the same honor he took in basketball.

Yet, Jancuska told Vincent in Hagerstown at their initial meeting that he "hadn't heard anything about him." That's amazing because Dave "Pop" Warner, who teaches in the county and once coached at Chesapeake High, is an assistant coach at UMBC.

Usually in cases like this, a scholarship falls through at the last minute, and a Division I coach will go out and try to find a diamond in the rough. UMBC might have struck it rich.

Jancuska is an outstanding coach and person, and he couldn't have made a better late-inning pick than Vincent, who I think before it is all said and done will make a lot of other coaches sorry they didn't pursue him.

At the same time, you have to salute Jacobson for his baseball judgment and for the way he handled the rejection.

"I told Jeff that if anything goes wrong at UMBC to give me a call, and we will work something out," said Jacobson.

Vincent said that Jacobson did tell him, "If that is what you want and you've got a four-year education by scholarship, that's great. I just hope everything works out for you."

This was not an easy decision for the young man, because he may or may not have given up a chance at a dream, to one day play professional baseball.

"I definitely want to play pro ball, but I didn't give that any thought when I made this decision," said Vincent.

His dad, Bill, suggested that his son attend AACC for a year, but let it "be his decision."

"I would have been happy with a year at Anne Arundel and then go to UMBC," said Bill.

"By going to Anne Arundel for a year, he would have been eligible for the June ['93] draft and who knows? But I didn't want to influence him, just give him both sides of it."

Players in four-year universities are not eligible for the major league baseball draft until they are juniors or age 21, whichever comes first. In Vincent's case, because he doesn't turn 18 until Oct. 7, it will be his junior year.

Community college players are eligible to be drafted and signed.

"A kid better be a shining star as a college junior to get a shot at pro baseball," said Jacobson, who boasts a host of players who have been drafted out of his Pioneer program, including Baltimore Orioles Class A pitcher Rick Forney of Annapolis.

"I really think he had a chance to be drafted and I cut a kid from the Eastern Shore because I thought Jeff was coming here. The kid I cut was a pretty good middle infielder, too, but Jeff was local with great potential."

Jacobson said he was surprised there wasn't more interest in Vincent because he runs the 60 in 6.7 or 6.8 seconds, has a good arm, is superb defensively, is an adequate hitter and is blessed with the intangibles.

Vincent said some schools might have shied away from him because of his low SAT score of 740. However, that meets the NCAA requirement of 700 and his 2.80 GPA is more than adequate.

The simple truth is that some student-athletes don't test well, and Vincent, who otherwise is a good student, is one of them. UMBC made a wise choice, because Vincent is the kind of kid who when he puts his mind to it will get the job done.

UMBC returns a senior shortstop, and Vincent already has put his mind to either beating the guy out or possibly playing second base or the outfield.

"It's up to me to earn a chance to play," said Vincent.

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