By Mitch Howard
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
North Laurel outfielder Marcus Carson knew where he wanted to go all along. Wednesday he made it official, signing a letter of intent to play baseball at the University of Kentucky.
“It was a big thing for my family and myself. It’s one of those things that not many people get to do,” Carson said.
The Wildcats first contacted Carson the summer after his freshman year. Carson attended a UK camp and all it took was for the Kentucky coaches to see him run to first base in 3.2 seconds. Carson verbally committed to UK the end of his sophomore year.
“They are going to be getting a heck of an outfielder for one thing. He is as good as they come. His baseball IQ and instincts are phenomenal,” North Laurel Coach Darren McWhorter said.
Carson joined the varsity team as an eighth grader and has led the team in hitting every year, until Zach Storm edged him out last season. Storm now plays for UK as well.
“He’s made it real easy for me as a coach. Pretty much, he’s on his own. He’s on his own when he steals his bases. He’s on his own when he lays down the bunt. He just knows when to do it,” McWhorter said. “He doesn’t strike out and he has the ability to put the bat on the ball.”
With UK signing Storm and now Carson, North Laurel has sent a player to Division I baseball three of the last four years. Tanner Smith signed with Western in 2010. The Jaguars’ John Hooker also played at Kentucky and Jason Kennedy played D1 at Morehead.
“We’ve been fortunate. These kids have worked very hard and are extremely deserving. It doesn’t just happen by accident,” McWhorter said.
The Kentucky coaches have not given Carson anything specific to work on to prepare for college baseball. They have told him he just has to keep working and “make a spot for himself.”
“It’s the SEC, so you know it’s going to be the best competition,” Carson said.
Carson gives a lot of credit to his parents, Mark and Janet Carson, for his success.
“It would have to be my dad, always pushing me to be my best. Driving me to and from practice, coaching me ever since I was little and just always being there for me,” Carson said. “My dad and mom have been at every single game.”
Hard work, support and coaching can only take you so far. McWhorter said Carson is blessed with God-given ability. This includes, speed, instincts, and being born left handed.
“Just because you want to do it doesn’t mean it’s always going to happen for you. You have to have some kind of special gift before UK comes knocking at the door,” McWhorter said.