Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
Tell me a little bit about being drafted by the Chicago White Sox when you were in high school and how you wound up taking the path you did.
RJ: Coming out of high school I was a pretty highly rated baseball player. As the draft approached, I was talking to a number of different teams, the White Sox being one of them. By the time the draft came, we had pretty much decided I was going to go to college and pursue that avenue rather than going to play professional baseball, just because of the opportunities that were presented, as far as getting my education. They took me in the 39th round, kind of as a courtesy I guess, to say you're a great prospect and we probably know you're not going to come. It was a great honor to be drafted. Baseball was the first sport I started playing. It was my first love. It's always great to be considered one of the top people in the sport you love.
How tough was it for you to make that decision and did you know at that time you were going to go to Georgia Tech? Had they offered you a scholarship to play football and did that help the decision?
RJ: Yes, I had already signed with Georgia Tech and I was all set to come. It was an incredibly tough decision. I sat down with my parents, though, and they were really adamant about having it be my decision, but they guided me the way they wanted me to go. They were comfortable with my decision to come to Tech, and they're happy with it right now.
Did you think at all about playing baseball for Georgia Tech? Because they're really good.
RJ: Yeah, they are. And, yes, I did. I thought about it and I was talking to coach [Danny] Hall about it throughout the recruiting process. Once baseball season rolled around we had spoken about it some. When coach [Paul] Johnson came, we had to install a whole new offense that spring. I decided to take a year off and try and learn the offense, really solidify myself as a football player, since that's what I was on scholarship here to do. When this year came around, I was kind of burned out from the season, so it just didn't happen. Who knows what will happen down the line. Maybe I'll pick up a baseball one day and see I haven't lost it too much and talk to coach Hall and see if that opportunity is there. If not, I'm comfortable with my baseball playing days.
What do you think when you see guys like Russell Wilson and Kyle Parker? There are other players in the league who are doing it. Do you have any sense of regret, or are you like, 'Wow, I can't believe they're doing it.'
RJ: I have the utmost respect for them because that's a lot. I see those guys doing it, and it's a lot to do. Football season is definitely a grind, and baseball season is, too. It's such a long season, and baseball is such a mental sport, you have to be in every game. I have the utmost respect for those guys. They're great athletes, but it's not for everybody. Maybe it wasn't for me.
That's cool. Your role specifically, what is your goal for this season?
RJ: My goal for this season is to help the team win every game. We're coming in this year with high expectations. Nobody really expected us to do much last year. In many ways, we kind of surprised ourselves. This year, we know what we're capable of. We've got just about everybody coming back. We're going in looking to win a championship this year.
How is the mentality different because the expectations from the outside are so much different from last year? You guys are ranked, you have all the skill-position players back. People are looking at you guys now like you're supposed to do something.
RJ: I think our expectations have always been high. Last year taught us not to listen to the outside as far as what they think. We were predicted to win three games in the beginning of the season. Last year taught us don't listen to all that outside stuff, and we kind of carried it over to this year. Now everybody is praising us and patting us on the back and saying we should be ranked or whatever. We're taking it all in stride. It's not something we're going around saying we're ranked and we should be so good. We're taking it the same way we did last year -- coming in, working hard, and hoping to surprise people still.
Well just for the record, I did pick you guys to beat Georgia last year.
RJ: [laughs]. You were probably the only one.
Just so you know. But I was not expecting that LSU game. What happened?
RJ: Um, I don't really remember what you're talking about.
Short memory, huh?
RJ: [laughs] What was the question?