July 31, 2014
By Jerome Boettcher | Subscribe to Commodore Nation
Ranking his favorite outdoor pastimes comes easy for Vanderbilt freshman Bryan Reynolds.
“You’ve got baseball up top,” he said. “I’d say I’d like to be a fisherman right after that.”
As a child, plenty of his summer days were spent at the Land Between the Lakes National Recreational Area just north of the Tennessee border in Kentucky. Throwing in a line off the family boat, Reynolds hoped to hook a largemouth bass out of Lake Barkley.
His enthusiasm for fishing comes from his father, Greg, an aspiring professional bass fisherman.
“He has always been a big fisherman,” Bryan said. “He’s pretty good. He loves it.”
When the father-son pair didn’t have rod and reel in hand, most likely a glove and bat took their place.
His earliest memories of playing baseball go back to when he was four years old, “hitting in the front yard across the street with my dad.”
Those early batting practice sessions with his father seem to have come along way for the 19-year-old Brentwood resident, who was named a consensus Freshman All-American by four publications, including Collegiate Baseball and Baseball America, on top of SEC All-Freshman Team honors.
He spent the summer with teammates Dansby Swanson, Carson Fulmer and Walker Buehler playing for USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team. The quartet and Team USA just wrapped up their season on Sunday after five games in Pinar del Rio, Cuba. Reynolds burst onto the scene the very first weekend, earning SEC Freshman of the Week honors after ripping six hits and driving in five runs in the season-opening series at Long Beach State.
Coach Tim Corbin inserted him into the starting lineup the second game of the season. He stayed there the rest of the season, starting 58 of 59 games heading into the NCAA Regional.
Reynolds, a switch-hitter who played all three outfield positions and first base, led the team in batting (.338), hits (95) and RBIs (54).
“I knew that I could play some but I didn’t know if I’d be an everyday guy,” Reynolds said. “I just hoped if I got a chance I’d make the most of it and hopefully get a spot. I guess I’m surprised (by the freshman success). Not that I doubted myself but you just don’t expect to come in and do that.”
Reynolds, who lived in Nolensville until fourth grade before moving to Brentwood, arrived on campus last fall and immediately noticed a gigantic difference in the pitching from high school to college.
And that was just on his own team as he grew accustomed to Tyler Beede, Carson Fulmer, Brian Miller and the rest of the Commodore pitching staff during fall ball.
“The curveballs are harder and sharper and the changeups are… I mean the pitching is crazy here,” Reynolds said. “The fall was rough because our pitchers are the best in the country. I had a rough fall but it definitely helped.”
With the help of hitting coach Travis Jewett and thanks to some pointers from teammates Dansby Swanson and Xavier Turner, Reynolds tweaked his swing. He also credits going home to Brentwood over winter break and “clearing his mind.”
He returned refreshed and better adjusted for his first season in the SEC. One of 14 freshmen in a highly decorated signing class, the first team All-State selection and 2013 District Player of the Year flew under the radar heading into the season opener, perhaps due to a modest fall.
But he quickly won over his teammates and coaches and worked his way up the batting order. Quiet off the field, he let his bat do the talking, and moved up to the No. 3 spot in the lineup, where he spent nearly half of his games this season.
“He is a talented kid. Maybe one of the more unheralded kids that came into our program,” Corbin said. “He is one of those kids that has high expectations of himself. He works hard for what he has. The kids have certainly taken to him. He is a kid who has a quiet personality but his personality plays a little bigger on the baseball field.”