Raiders Add Fifth, Sixth Signees

Burnett, Miller become fifth and sixth signees during early period

November 10, 2006 · MT Media Relations
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Middle Tennessee head baseball coach Steve Peterson announced the signings of infielders Tyler Burnett and Justin Miller to national letters-of-intent on Friday, the fifth and sixth Blue Raider signees of the fall.

Burnett is an All-District shortstop for Oakland High School in Murfreesboro, Tenn., and has been a three-year starter for coach Mack Hawks and the Patriots. The 6-foot-1, 195-pound infielder batted .391 as a junior and .452 this past summer for the Murfreesboro Patriots. Burnett is a multi-sport athlete at Oakland, serving as the quarterback and punter for the football team as well, garnering All-Region honors as a punter in 2005.

Burnett will join a long list of former Oakland players in the Middle Tennessee program, including current Blue Raiders Nathan Hines, Doug Birkofer and Brad Robinson, as well as former program greats such as Jerry Knox, John Williams, Chuck Akers, Kyle Thomas and Kenny Gerhart.

"He can really hit," Peterson said. "We've always been partial to lefthanded hitters and he's a very good hitter. His swing mechanics are such that he should hit the ball out of the park. He's been a shortstop but we'll move him to third base and give us some power at the corner.

"Tyler's also very athletic. He's the starting quarterback in football and has great leadership ability. He wants to totally commit all of his athletic abilities to baseball and we're really glad to have him. He's been around Middle Tennessee baseball all of his life like most of the Rutherford County kids we sign and I think in his heart, this is where he always wanted to go to school, and that's an even greater plus."

Miller was an All-State, All-Region and All-District selection for coach Matthew Buckner at Bearden High School in Knoxville, Tenn. He batted .430 with 13 doubles, seven home runs, 58 runs scored, 35 RBIs and 18 stolen bases last season for the Bulldogs. Miller attends the same high school as former Blue Raider Brett Carroll, who currently plays in the Florida Marlins organization.

"We felt like we had a need to sign a guy who has the speed to play in the middle of the infield and Justin has the intangibles to do that and be our shortstop of the future," Peterson said.

"He was hard to evaluate because he was hurt most of the summer with a leg injury, but I have to compliment [Associate Head Coach Jim] McGuire because he kept hanging with Justin throughout the process and a lot of programs backed off. [McGuire] kept emphasizing his abilities to me. Finally this fall Justin was able to display his running talents and he really fills one of our big needs."

Peterson added that McGuire and assistant coach Mike McLaury along with Middle Tennessee's Academic Enhancement Center were big parts of this deep class of early signees for the Blue Raiders.

"I have to give a lot of credit for all of these guys to Coach McGuire and Coach McLaury because they work so hard going to see them play during the high school season and then during the summer and at all of the showcases," Peterson said. "They brag about their work habits, intensity for the game and leadership and really fit into the Blue Raider baseball program on and off the field.

"The comment from all of the parents [of the signees] has been about how comfortable they felt with the Enhancement Center, Jim Rost and our contact, Wynnifred Counts. "The players will get everything they want out of baseball but also stay on track to get a degree as well."

Peterson also said plans for a new baseball stadium in 2008 were a major factor with all of the signees.

"The commitment by the university to build a new stadium was instrumental in signing all of these players. Their future plans in baseball coincide with the future baseball plans at Middle Tennessee and getting to Omaha for the College World Series," Peterson said. "The financial commitment of the university and community made it that much better. The best is yet to come for these guys and playing in a new stadium is a big part of the plans for this round of recruits as well as those in the coming years."

Miller and Burnett join four other Middle Tennessee signees from the fall period, including righthanded pitcher PJ Francescon (Nolensville, Tenn., Ravenwood HS), catcher Tyler Acker (Old Hickory, Tenn., DCA), outfielder/pitcher Bryce Brentz (Knoxville, Tenn., South Doyle HS) and outfielder/pitcher Michael Adamson (Freeburg, Ill., Freeburg HS).

Middle Tennessee opens the spring schedule with a three-game series at Reese Smith Field, February 16-18, against Jacksonville State.

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