From quarterback to closer: The evolution of USF's Eveld

- Growing up, sports was a way of life for USF closer Tommy Eveld and his family.

"All three of the brothers, so me and my two brothers, played baseball and football growing up. Everybody's always like, 'Oh why not basketball?' It was just something we never got into."

Year-round, football and baseball kept Eveld and his brothers busy.  When he arrived at USF in 2012, he was playing football full time.

Following a knee injury two years later and a new head football coach in Willie Taggart, Eveld wondered if his athletic abilities would be better suited in baseball.

"I started to realize that our offense was starting to go in a different direction, in terms of me being a pro-style quarterback and them not being a pro-style offense, so I switched to wide receiver," said Eveld. "Then I played one year at wide receiver where I was on scout team."

After five years away from the diamond, the transition from football to baseball wasn't exactly seamless. It was an important decision for Eveld to make because he thought he had more of a future playing baseball.

"I realized, you know what? I'm not fast enough to play in the NFL," he said.  "So, I picked up baseball and started throwing with my older brother and we joined a men's league baseball team. I think a month and a half after I joined that team, I tried out at USF."

The decision was made, but for Eveld, it was a grind from the get-go.

"I mean, I had like 28 innings last year, like a 6.00 ERA. So, I struggled for a little and towards the end of the year, I started figuring it out."

"Going from not seeing hitters to seeing Division I hitters, I was a bit nervous," he continued.  "Once I got out there, I started realizing that there's a defense behind me that's also Division I level and I could just let guys hit the ball and the defense would take care of the rest. That was when I started to pitch better."

"A year ago, he was a football player and today he's our closer," said USF baseball coach Mark Kingston. "Closer is a very tough role to have,  It's maybe the most pressure-packed position on the field because you have an entire team that's been battling for three hours and they're giving you the ball to say please get us three outs so we can win this game. So, not only is it tough physically, mentally it's challenging. It's not for everybody, so I think Tommy being able to come in and handle that pressure is very impressive."

So far, Eveld's 1.71 ERA this season is an example of just how far he's come.

His success is thanks in part to his gridiron past.

"There's some pitches I throw where I try to mimic the same way I threw a football, just to try and get a pitch to move a certain way," said Eveld. "It actually makes pitching easier when you're thinking in the back of your head, 'Throw this one like a football!'"

From quarterback to closer, Tommy hasn't completely given up his football ways.

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