Cushing Shortstop Cameron Burk Signs With Missouri University Of Science And Technology
The journey from high school sports to college athletics is never easy, but baseball recruiting is a different animal altogether.
Not only are high school players competing against each other for just a few scholarships, as NCAA baseball is an equivalency sport, they're also competing with refined junior college players and transfers between four-year universities.
And that makes Cushing shortstop Cameron Burk's story even more compelling. The two-time district defensive most valuable player and all-state selection signed with Missouri University of Science and Technology last week, an NCAA Division II program in Rolla, Mo., amidst intense competition on a national level.
The senior signed with the Miners in favor of offers from East Texas Baptist University and College of the Ozarks.
It's a big accomplishment to be recruited by three universities. Division II schools only have nine full-ride scholarships to split among their rosters and Division I colleges are nearly as strapped with 11.7 scholarships to share among a full team.
The end result? Burk has some financial backing to attend a school recognized for its strong academic programs and also will continue his baseball career beyond the 2015 high school season.
"I want to major in a field in engineering," Burk said. "Hopefully mechanical engineering. Missouri S&T, that's what they're known for. They're praised for their engineering programs."
The shortstop has already passed some major career milestones.
He batted .539 and reached base about two-thirds of the time as a junior last season. Burk had 36 hits, 22 for extra bases, scored 36 runs and batted in another 29. Defensively, he had a .939 fielding percentage and committed just four errors in a 29-game season.
"I'm not very much a power hitter," Burk said. "I'm more of a contact hitter. Last year, I got lucky enough to hit over .500, get on base and just help my team. I pride myself on my defense. I always want the ball hit to me. I love defense. That's my favorite thing."
Burk has two district defensive most valuable player awards under his belt, including one as a freshman, and was named to the Class 1A all-state team as a sophomore and second-team all-state squad as a junior.
To give you an idea on how much Missouri S&T wanted Burk, the 2014 Miners' roster featured players mostly from the Midwest. There were 11 former junior college players and two Division I transfers on the team.
There's one Texan in the lineup, Tyler Schutt from Katy Cinco Ranch. He'll be a junior when Burk arrives on campus.
"I really didn't know what to expect from colleges, coming from a small school," Burk said. "It sure is shocking to get three offers coming from a small 2A. Some people will say the competition is weaker, but we'll play teams that have pitchers getting recruited by Division I and Division II schools. There is good competition to go against."
Cushing put up an 18-11 record this past spring and went 12-3 in the old District 12-1A behind Douglass, which went on to win the final Class 1A state championship in Texas history.
Class 2A is now the smallest baseball division in the state. The 1A classification is only used for six-man football, and those schools bounce up to 2A for all other sports.
Burk and the Bearkats handed larger schools in Gilmer and West Rusk losses and competed with a solid Jefferson club.
Cushing will play in a district featuring Douglass again this season.
The goals for Burk this upcoming campaign are clear. The Miners program will anxiously watch.
"This was a big relief for everyone," Burk said. "My parents were a big help in the recruiting process. We'd spend probably two hours a night just filling out recruiting forms, e-mailing coaches, calling coaches and leaving voicemails. They've been there every step of the way for me, helping me, encouraging me even when I got down when I wasn't getting callbacks.
"It all worked out and I thank God for them every day."