Hunter Sute goes to high school two miles away from the University of Alabama’s campus, at American Christian Academy. He’s been going to UA football games since he was two years old. As a baseball prospect, he was obviously hopeful an offer from UA would come.
When it finally came, he found taking it wasn’t an automatic yes.
“It was more difficult than I anticipated, because I had to make sure this was the right place to go,” Sute said. “I’m not just going to play baseball there, I’m going to be going to school there, so I needed to make sure this was the right place for me to be.
“I took a week and I thought about it. Talked to my parents, prayed about it, did my research and finally committed because with all the stuff going on, there probably isn’t going to be another opportunity like this.”
In committing to UA last week, Sute became what is likely to be the final addition to UA’s 2021 class from the high school ranks, its lone catcher. Sute is a bit of an outlier in a baseball recruiting cycle that is typically done two or three years in advance, being a 2021 prospect committing in 2020.
Sute is lucky he got to at least start his high school season before the COVID-19 pandemic forced widespread sports cancellations. If not, the offer from UA may never have come.
Sute was on UA’s radar this time last year, when UA pitching coach Jason Jackson saw him at a Perfect Game showcase. Jackson and volunteer assistant coach Matt Reida had been in contact, but UA had never extended a scholarship offer of any kind.
Fast forward to the beginning of ACA’s season this spring. ACA coach Del Howell told Sute if he wanted achieve his goals, he needed to work on his receiving and blocking.
“Every day after we finished practice, he went in the indoor by himself and worked on it for 30 to 45 minutes every day,” Howell said. “I’d go up to office, finish paperwork, come back down and he’s still there.
“He’s a different guy. He’s always been a good athlete, good baseball player, but that light switch finally went off.”
The short sample that was the 2020 baseball season was enough to show the development, and enough development to convince UA he was worthy of a scholarship.
Because Sute dedicated himself to catching, he got an offer from Alabama. And because he got an offer from Alabama, he will get a chance to show the fruits of that labor in the most competitive environment in college baseball: the SEC.
“I’ve played a little bit of outfield and a little bit of first base, but I really wanted to focus on catching the last year,” Sute said. “I worked really hard on that, getting my mechanics fine-tuned and all that.”