The ramifications of Chad Holbrook’s resignation as the University of South Carolina’s baseball head coach will be felt throughout the program, the university and the college baseball landscape.
However, the biggest impact will likely fall on the incoming class of recruits – one that includes Sumter High School’s Jordan Holladay and Wilson Hall’s McLendon Sears.
The duo received word of Holbrook stepping down late Tuesday via text message from assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Sammy Esposito moments before the news leaked on Twitter.
“I was surprised,” Sears said. “I hated to see it happen because I really liked Coach Holbrook and Coach Espo and Coach (Jerry) Meyers and all those guys. I hated to hear it because I really wanted to play for those guys. I liked them a lot.”
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It was in Holbrook’s office that Sears made his commitment to USC, he said, and the two have had a strong relationship since then.
“We’ve kept in touch and I’ve seen him at some of my games,” Sears said. “I really liked him and the coaching staff a lot and he was one of the reasons I decided to go there.”
Holbrook’s departure isn’t going to change Sears’ mind about being a Gamecock next season, he said.
“I committed to a university; I didn’t commit to a coaching staff,” he said. “You never know what’s going to happen anywhere you go. It’s a business and that’s understandable.
“But I’ll play for the next coach and hopefully we’ll get along well, whoever it is.”
Holladay had a similar reaction of being surprised, and even though it was under Holbrook that he committed to USC, the change in staff won’t affect his decision to go to Columbia either.
“Carolina was where I wanted to go to school even before baseball started,” Holladay said. “As of right now, unless something major changes, I’m going to stay at Carolina.”
While there will likely be some adjustments to dealing with a coaching staff that’s up in the air, Holladay said his main focus is just on getting ready for next season.
“I’m just going to go out there and give it my all,” Holladay said. “Whether Coach Holbrook would have stayed or whoever the new coach will be, I still have to go out there and work hard and execute and play to the best of my ability.
“Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you respond.”
The news likely stung a little more for former players and friends. Matt Price, the former Sumter High and Sumter P-15’s standout, got to USC right around the same time as Holbrook. They were part of the back-to-back College World Series championship teams in 2010 and 2011.
“I was shocked,” Price said of learning Holbrook stepped down. “At first I was like, ‘Oh man that’s tough.’ He’s such a class act and does everything the right way. I only hope the best for him.”
Price credits Holbrook as being someone who was always good at getting him motivated before big games – especially against Clemson.
“My freshmen year we went up to Clemson on a Friday night,” Price said. “He comes in the huddle and says, ‘Hey, this is what we live for right here – these rivalry games.’ He was one of those guys that got you pumped up, and I always respected him for that.”
The former USC closer also credits Holbrook with influencing his own coaching career after working under him as a student assistant two years ago.
“There’s so much more that goes into coaching,” Price said. “Picking the right lineup based on who the other team is throwing and making sure you have the right guys in the right spots and playing the guys who are doing well – those are all things that I picked up from him.”
Northwestern pitcher weighs in
USC pitcher commitment John Gilreath, a rising senior at Northwestern High School, issued this statement on his future: