While some recruiting processes can last a year or more, Benny Montgomery’s lasted barely a month.
The Red Land sophomore outfielder committed to Virginia on Sept. 9, a little more than a month after his first serious recruiting experience at a visit with Virginia Tech.
Oh, and he committed on his 16th birthday and announced his choice on Instagram the next day — that’s one way to celebrate a Sweet 16.
“Virginia — I loved the campus, the coaches were great,” Montgomery, 16, said Tuesday afternoon.
“It was very, very close to home. I didn’t think it could get much better than that.”
How quickly did his recruitment accelerate?
Virginia Tech coaches saw Montgomery at a Perfect Game tournament at LakePoint, Georgia, in mid-July. The Hokies invited him on campus a few weeks later and gave him his first offer.
Montgomery, who said he stands 6 feet, 3 1/2 inches tall, also drew interest from Stanford, Duke and North Carolina. But Virginia also saw his recent numbers at Perfect Game events this summer and followed with a partial offer of its own.
Not wanting the opportunity to slip away — baseball recruiting heats up early and it is quite common for high school players to get Division I interest to accept an offer before their junior year, if not earlier — Montgomery made his verbal quickly.
He was sold on the coaching staff, the Cavaliers’ success — UVA qualified for the College World Series four times since 2009, finished second in 2014 and won the national championship in 2015, all under 15th-year head coach Brian O’Connor — and the proximity to home. Of the schools that expressed interest, Virginia (225 miles away) is the closest to his home in Lewisberry. Montgomery is originally from Bloomsburg, but his family moved to the midstate a few years ago.
“Virginia’s very close to home,” Montgomery said. “So that was a very easy choice when that happened.”
But academics were “the top thing on my list for going to a school for baseball,” he said.
Montgomery said he is considering a pre-med track in college. His dad is a surgeon and he has a desire to follow in his footsteps. But he will continue to explore his options since studying medicine and the rigors of D-I baseball do not often mix easily.
Montgomery, who said he started playing baseball when he was 6 or 7, played a little bit at the varsity level for a loaded Patriots squad this past spring that features cousins and Georgia commits Luke and Cole Wagner, as well as Kentucky-bound senior catcher Jared Payne.
Red Land advanced to the District 3 Class 5A third-place game and the PIAA quarterfinals last year and looks like it will be a serious championship contender in 2019.
“The team this year is going to be very, very good,” Montgomery said. “I think we’re going to be hard to beat. But then again, we gotta stay humble.”
While his height drew interest, Montgomery said adding strength is “probably the No. 1 priority” for him ahead of college. While the right-hander does pitch and can reach the low-80s already, he was recruited as an outfielder. He said he prides himself on his athleticism and work ethic.
He played for a GoWags Baseball travel team for several years and joined Team Elite out of Georgia, the same team the Wagners play for.