Redshirt Sophomore Tyler Locklear Named Second Team All-American The Commonwealth Times
Arrick Wilson, sports editor
Ella Floyd, Contributing author
VCU redshirt sophomore Tyler Locklear has been named second-team preseason baseball All-American. Locklear is no stranger to success, with the team picking up 17 awards during a strong season last spring that took the Rams to the Atlantic-10 title.
Locklear took the road less travelled, sitting and redshirting his freshman year, then playing the following year as his redshirt freshman. Redshirting refers to an athlete who takes a break from athletic participation, often to prolong their career, according to the Merriam Webster Dictionary.
“My experience as a redshirt freshman was a little different than most due to the leadership role coaches gave me in late fall at a younger age with the list of seniors we had,” Locklear said in an email.
Locklear was named an All-American by the Scouting website Perfect game. According to its website, the organization is one of the largest amateur baseball scouting services in the world, hosting more than 1,000 showcases and tournaments each year. Being named an All-American by Perfect Game is not determined by a voting process, but rather selected based on a combination of factors, including stats from the previous year and player rankings relative to their status repechage.
In Perfect Game’s on January 5 Release of their picks for the 2022 preseason All-Americans, only 10 college athletes, including Locklear, received the honor of being named Second Team Hitters. VCU assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Rich Witten said in an email that Locklear deserved the awards he won last season.
“Tyler certainly deserved the accolades he received after the 2021 season. He’s proven to be one of the most dominant players in the country,” Written said.
Locklear, however, would receive news of his prestigious award in a hotel room on his way to a tournament in Starkville, Mississippi with the team.
“I didn’t even know that at first and it was really cool to hear that and see how all the hard work that was finally put in was worth it and paid off,” Locklear said. “We had games to win so it was a short-lived celebration and we had to be focused to win.”
Despite the expectations one might think this award would carry, Locklear said he wasn’t worried about the pressure getting in his way.
“Receiving the award hasn’t really added any pressure other than people now know who I am and game plans are going to change a bit,” Locklear said. “I just kept staying inside and not letting it get the better of me.”
Locklear, a resident of Abingdon, Maryland, got off to a flying start with VCU baseball, quickly becoming one of the best home run hitters in the country. He ranked No. 31 in the nation for home runs, according to the NCAA.
At Archbishop Curley High School, Locklear was an all-around athlete according to Locklear High School coach Joseph Gaeta.
“Tyler was one of the most committed players at school in recent history,” Gaeta said. “He was always the most dominant player on the court in HS [high school] his junior and senior season.
Locklear was instrumental in the VCU Rams ending their season by winning the 2021 Atlantic-10 Baseball Championship for the first time since 2015. He will also walk away with 17 individual awards various associations, as well as becoming the first player in conference history to win both Atlantic-10 Player and Rookie of the Year in the same season.
“The news about that was really exciting because to be the first to do it, with all the talent that’s played over the years, was really exciting and also humbling because of his fame,” Locklear said.
With spring fast approaching, assistant coach Witten said he was confident Locklear had the keys to another successful season.
“I have confidence that Tyler will perform well this coming season. The main reason for that is that Tyler is first and foremost a great teammate who likes to win,” Witten said. “When you have a player as talented as Tyler who also does showing leadership by example and work ethic, his results on the pitch will take care of himself.”
The Rams begin their season Feb. 18 as they travel to Winston-Salem, North Carolina to face the Rider University Broncos.