By PATRICK THOMAS
Many great athletes start a legacy when they commit to a university or college. Seldom is a legacy already awaiting them. For Spain Park’s Colton Freeman, signing to play baseball at the University of Alabama in November is a new beginning intertwined with a storied past.
The senior pitcher/outfielder who committed to Alabama in January 2010 is not the first in his family to play for the University. His grandfather, football great Wayne Freeman of Fort Payne, began the journey.
“I have bragging rights with my buddies,” said Wayne, smiling. “It means a lot when you talk to people but truly, he has a foundation there waiting for him with open arms.”
Coach Bear Bryant called him “the finest guard I ever coached.” Wayne Freeman was a member of Bryant’s first national championship team in 1964 as well as the NEA All-American team that year.
“My grandfather never stayed on me to go to Alabama,” said Colton. “But it was a huge factor in my decision.”
Entering his senior year, Colton has become a highly touted prospect not only in Alabama and the South but around the nation. Before his junior season, he was selected to play in the 2010 ESPN Area Code Baseball games in Long Beach, Cali. His team was selected by the Oakland A’s, and he was invited to play for a team selected by Washington Nationals the following summer. Many of the baseball players in this prestigious experience go on to professional careers.
This past junior season in 2011 at Spain Park, Colton was 7-1 as a pitcher while averaging double digit strikeouts per inning (84 K’s in 42.2 innings) with a fastball that has been clocked at upwards of 93 MPH. His stellar year earned him a spot on the 2011 All-State Baseball team and a preseason All-American nomination for the 2012 season. He was also nominated as an Under Armour All-American before his junior and senior year seasons.
When asked what his preferences are in the field, Colton leaned towards pitching.
“Everything depends on me,” said Colton. “I enjoy that.”
Starting with teeball at the age of four, Colton has displayed a workmanlike approach to baseball, but it’s not all work for him.
“Every day I look forward to it,” Colton said. “I just love that release I get from school.”
Routinely, he works out with a trainer on Tuesdays and Thursdays while spending long hours throwing and hitting the other days of the week. If there are any doubts, he uses weekends too.
“Colton has a lot of work ethic that he has displayed since he was a child,” said his father, Aaron Freeman.
Last summer he played more than 100 baseball games with the number one ranked travel ball team in the nation, the Marucci Elite. The team was made up of players throughout the Southeast who have committed to programs such as LSU, Ole Miss, and California State-Fullerton.
On another occasion, Colton competed at the weeklong East Coast Pro, an experience like a minor league training camp put on by the Kansas City Royals in Lakeland, Fla. Invited players shared one huge room of bunk beds and competed in front of scouts on a daily basis.
“That was a cool experience but it was rough,” said Colton. “It definitely introduced me to what pro-life is like.”
To say Colton Freeman is your average teenager heading into his senior year of baseball would be a stretch. Fortunately, Colton realizes how blessed he is.
“It kind of humbles you when you know that other kids my age are not getting these same opportunities,” said Colton. “I just want to take advantage of the talent we have on the team and win state.”
Wayne Freeman summed it up best when describing how Colton can reach success: “Never lose sight of your dreams. Keep that inner fire.” Sounds like great advice.