Bryce Eldridge makes his presence known wherever he goes. He’s a 6-foot-7 freshman at Madison High School in Vienna, Virginia, and as if that weren’t enough, he can throw a fastball as fast as 90 miles per hour and has home-run power at the plate, too.
As college programs began to notice that talent, Madison baseball coach Mark Gjormand felt it was important to get to know Eldridge better, as his recruiting process started to heat up. Through those conversations, Gjormand found something more impressive: a young man mature beyond his years.
Those conversations started in the fall, while Eldridge was also playing for the freshman football team — and doing well enough to get brought up to the varsity team at the end of the freshman season. By Easter Sunday, Eldridge was calling Gjormand with his college decision.
“I wanna go to ‘Bama.”
Eldridge is one of four players currently committed to UA baseball’s 2023 recruiting class, according to Perfect Game, with three years left to establish the athletic potential projected in his 6-foot-7 frame.
“When a freshman walks in the door 6’7”, throws 89, 90 and can hit the ball 400 feet, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out the kid’s pretty good,” Gjormand said. “The recruiting process started early for Bryce — last summer in terms of me getting involved — and it started with ACC and SEC schools. Bryce did a good job of narrowing it down; he knew he wanted to be in the SEC, that was a goal.”
Madison is no stranger to talents like Eldridge. This year’s team alone had players committed to North Carolina and Virginia, and a few years ago the Warhawks sent Andy McGuire to Texas. Yet, Eldridge showed no intimidation in proving his worth to the team.
“I think the thing that was the most impressive about him was he carried himself like he belonged, which he obviously did physically, but that can be difficult for a 15-year-old with 18-year-olds,” Justin Counts said. Counts is the head football coach at Madison but also serves on the baseball staff, seeing Eldridge in both of his sports.
As a football player, Eldridge presents a big target at wide receiver; Counts said he was physical and, “a dominant player,” against fellow freshmen.
He quickly impressed on the diamond, too.
Madison played just two preseason scrimmages before the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the rest of its season. Eldridge hit a home run in his first at-bat, which was no surprise to Gjormand: Gjormand coached against Eldridge in Little League as early as 9 years old, where, “I couldn’t get him out to save my life.”
Now, Gjormand looks forward to penciling Eldridge into his own lineup for the next three years. Then, unless the MLB Draft intervenes, sending him to UA.
“I love everything about him, I love coaching the kid,” Gjormand said.
Reach Brett Hudson at 205-722-0196 or firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter, @Brett_Hudson