Newberry Observer

Brannon signs to Erskine

WHITMIRE — Justin Brannon, Whitmire High School senior, has signed a letter of intent to play baseball at Erskine College.

Brannon, 17, plays first base and has played for the Wolverines the last four years, after transferring from Union County. He grew up playing T-ball and played basketball until this year before deciding to further his baseball career.

Before choosing Erskine, Brannon planned on attending Clemson for academics and also had Lander University on his radar. He ultimately chose Erskine because of the family atmosphere he experienced while on campus.

What Brannon loves most about baseball is the atmosphere it brings and recalls his favorite memory of when the team center fielder hit a walk off home run against Dixie to clinch the team a spot in the Region Championship.

“Baseball is probably one of the greatest games out there today because you have to throw a pitch across the plate to finish a game, you can’t run out the time,” Brannon said.

While at Erskine, Brannon knows that he will have to put in the work as he transitions from high school to collegiate baseball.

“I’ll have to get stronger, when I came on campus they told me when I first get out there, there will be grown men out there and me, a little guy out there, they said that over that first year I’ll mature and I’ll be stronger than I ever thought I could be,” he said. “The coaches did a great job here at Whitmire to mold me into who I am today to be able to sign with Erskine.”

Brannon plans to major in Biology with a minor in secondary education to become a teacher, a decision that was influenced by his teachers at Whitmire High School.

“They work with the student and I think that the student should have a one on one basis with the teacher,” he said.

Although he plans to become a teacher, Brannon isn’t ruling out making the transition to the major leagues.

“I’m going to strive to make it to the major leagues, but if that fails I will continue my teaching degree, taking it step by step,” Brannon said.

His parents, Michelle and Lee Brannon said seeing their son sign to Erskine is a major honor and accomplishment, an opportunity that is very special to them.

“It’s a major honor and accomplishment, nobody in our family has ever had the opportunity to go off and play a sport in college and pursue his degree,” said Lee Brannon.

Like Justin Brannon, his parents liked the small, family-oriented atmosphere that Erskine had to offer.

“We went down for the first visit back in the fall, it was small and family-oriented, and we met Head Coach Mark Crocco and the team about a month and a half ago. He seemed like a good Christian man and I fell in love with the way he wanted his team to have values and it not being about winning in baseball, but in life as well, that’s what sold us,” he said.

Whitmire Head Baseball Coach Chris Martin has watched Brannon grow and develop over the years and knows that Brannon will be a great asset to the Erskine baseball program.

“Justin came to us four years ago and he’s grown a lot in four years as a player. The best thing I can say about Justin is that Justin is a great teammate, all of his teammates love him, but he has really blossomed and became a really good first baseman for us. He’s a tremendous student and he’s going to be a big success in life,” Martin said. “I think he’s going to work hard, he loves the game of baseball, he knows he’s got to get stronger, but he’s going into a great program and I just think it’s a win-win for both.”

Whitmire High School senior Justin Brannon, center, has signed to play baseball at Erskine College. He is pictured with his father Lee Brannon, left, and his mother Michelle Brannon, right. High School senior Justin Brannon, center, has signed to play baseball at Erskine College. He is pictured with his father Lee Brannon, left, and his mother Michelle Brannon, right. Kelly Duncan | The Newberry Observer

By Kelly Duncan

Reach Kelly Duncan at 803-768-3123 ext. 1868 or on Twitter @TheNBOnews.