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Beckley follows through on his Citadel commitment

Posted: November 28, 2016 3:11 p.m.
Updated: November 29, 2016 1:00 a.m.
Tom Didato/C-I photo/

CAMDEN’S DEVIN BECKLEY SIGNED his National Letter of Intent to continue his academic and baseball-playing pursuits at The Citadel while flanked by his parents, Stephanie and Denny Beckley, who were also joined by their children, Davis (far left) and Delaney (far right.) Looking on from behind, from left, are Camden High head football coach and athletics director Jimmy Neal, CHS assistant football coach and The Citadel graduate Daniel Sisk and CHS assistant baseball coach Brian Kersey.

(Camden, S.C.) sports editor

When you take a look at Devin Beckley’s football statistics from this past season, you have to wonder why some college did not try to sway the Camden High School senior from his decision to play baseball at The Citadel.

The 6-foot-3,  215-pound right-hander’s heart, though, has always been on the baseball field and he was not about to let a possible last-minute sales job from a college football coach take away his diamond dreams.

After having given a verbal pledge to The Citadel last spring, Beckley made good on his commitment by signing with Fred Jordan’s Bulldogs during the November signing period. The signing ceremony, held inside the CHS library, came four days after Beckley had set a new school-record for passing yards (434) and total offense (584) in the Bulldogs’ 77-61 first round AAA state playoff loss to Chapman.

Beckley had stood firm in repeating that he would not play football in college nor, suit up for another football game again after he plays in the Dec. 17 North-South All-Star football game in Myrtle Beach. Following his signing, he said there may not have been any football-playing options available to him.

“I think college (football) coaches know that I was pretty committed to playing baseball so, they stayed away,” he said. “I’m not real sure that they’ve looked at me, anyway.”

Beckley is coming off an All-State junior campaign at Camden High in which he fashioned a 7-1 record with two saves for the Region 4-AAA runners-up while pitching to a 1.47 earned run average. In 57 innings of work, he struck out 70 batters, walked three and hit a dozen. Opponents batted at a .160 clip against him.

Beckley’s father, Camden High head coach Denny Beckley, said his son needs to be more efficient on the mound especially with the 110-pitch limit for high school pitchers going into effect this spring. That ruling will put even more pressure on pitchers such as Devin Beckley to be around the strike zone.

Devin Beckley, who was brought up to the varsity squad as a freshman and went 1-0 in four appearances, has gotten better with his control. That area of his game will have to continue to get better, something with Denny Beckley and his staff will focus in on during the lead-up to the 2017 season.

“I was doing our stats and I looked as his strike (throwing) percentage and it has increased a little bit,” Denny Beckley said. “Devin’s been a guy who has been very successful for us. He’s always had tremendous poise. His velocity has increased and his curveball has gotten better. Those things have helped him to become more of a complete pitcher but in order for him to get better and be as productive at the next level as he was in high school, he has to have better strike percentages and he has to develop a better change-up. Those are the things that we’re going to try and work on in his senior year.

“He’s going to help us a lot, obviously, if he can do those things for us, as well. It will also help him be better prepared for The Citadel.”

In his two-plus years at Camden, Devin Beckley has posted an 11-5 record with two saves in 120 innings of work. This past summer, his second as a member of the Kershaw County American Legion Senior team, he helped Tyler Pike’s squad to a runner-up finish in the state tournament and was the team’s number one starting pitcher for the majority of the season.

Known for his ability to throw as many pitches as it takes and work well into games, the 110-pitch edict will have a bearing on Devin Beckley’s approach when he takes to the mound in the spring.

“I’m definitely going to have to bear down and throw more strikes; that’s a given,” he said with a smile. “A hundred and 10 pitches … I’m definitely going to have to re-evaluate how I pitch. I have to start throwing a lot more strikes early in the count and try to get people to hit the ball before trying to strike them out.”

Due to his football commitment each fall, Devin Beckley was unable to take part in the Bulldogs’ fall program which put him behind his non-football playing baseball teammates. That will be the case again this season but from here on, it will be full steam ahead and his conditioning will be taken to the next level when he gets under the tutelage of The Citadel pitching coach and former major league pitcher, Britt Reames.

“They’ll have a much better throwing program at The Citadel,” said Denny Beckley whose brother, David Beckley, is an assistant coach with the Charleston program. “I think Devin’s velocity will get better and will make another jump in college. At least, I hope so. 

“With him focusing so much on football in the fall these last four years and not being part of our fall throwing program, I think with him being 100 percent baseball in college that it will help a lot. They will also have a better weight-training program for baseball-specific stuff. 

“He is also going to be working with one of the best pitching coaches in America. Britt Reames is a former major leaguer and has a tremendous track record with development. Devin is a pretty intellectual guy and I think he is going to be able to pick up on a lot of things which will help him.”

“(Reames) played eight years in the pros; he knows his stuff and he’s smart,” Devin Beckley said of his future pitching coach. “He’ll fine-tune a bunch of stuff and help me to become more consistent with my delivery.

“I have to get stronger, though. It’s not like I’m weak, right now, but it’s a different level. I have to get a lot stronger.”

For all the baseball part of the equation on his signing day, Devin Beckley also knows the bulk of his time at The Citadel will be inside the classroom. Both he and his father said receiving a Citadel education and coming away with a degree from the military institution will go a long way after Devin Beckley has put away his glove.

“We’re very excited. The Citadel is a great university,” Denny Beckley said. “They have an unbelievable network system that helps set up people for after college and is as good as or, even better than, most colleges. As a parent, when you see the potential for him being very successful after college, that’s the thing that really helps us to accept this.”

As for Devin Beckley, he understands the responsibilities of being a student-athlete at the Citadel. An honor roll student at CHS, he said there is no down side in his decision which, he said, he was glad he had made earlier in the year and to have behind him in with several final months of high school to spare.

“I like The Citadel and how mentally tough it will prepare you to be for life after college even if you’re not a baseball player who is going to the pros,” he said of his signing.

“It’s really cool to know that you’re locked up and you don’t have to worry about where you’re going to college through baseball season. It’s nice to have that wrapped up.”


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