April 29, 2002

Feel free to call him a hometown hero; he has certainly become accustomed to the title. The Bexley-native and 2001 Big Ten Freshman of the Year has received more than his share of attention from his hometown. Growing up just 15 minutes away from the Ohio State campus, Deeds spent his childhood Sundays with his father watching the Buckeyes at old Trautman Field.

“Growing up I always wanted to be out there with them,” Deeds said. “So in a sense this is a dream come true.”

Off the field, Deeds is an active member of his church and spends much of his free time volunteering, participating in sermons and spending time with children at the church’s latchkey program.

“It’s been harder now being on the road and being away from home on Sundays, but I try to help out when I can,” the Buckeye rightfielder said.

After an extraordinary freshman season in which Deeds batted an impressive .343 with 53 runs batted in and ended the season second in the Big Ten with 14 homeruns, Deeds had a lot to live up to in his sophomore campaign. Combine his freshman successes with attempting to live up to the hype coming from his nearby hometown and you might think Deeds would feel pressure to perform, but Deeds is not worried.

“I think looking up and down our lineup, we have a lot of talented players and just having a lot of athletes hitting around me takes a lot of the pressure off of me,” Deeds said. “I just try to do what I can at the plate and try not to do too much.”

He has responded to the thought of a sophomore jinx in striking fashion by solidifying his role as an offensive powerhouse in the Buckeye line-up. Through 29 games, Deeds ranks in the Top 10 in Big Ten batting (.413), on-base percentage (.508), runs (37), hits (45) and slugging percentage (.642).

While primarily recognized as an offensive player, Deeds also has been known to flash his glove when the situation presents itself. Deeds has recorded just two errors in his career as a Buckeye in 98 chances, giving him a fielding percentage of .980. Deeds thinks the continuation of quality fielding as a necessary factor for his team’s success. “I try to work really hard on (my defense),” Deeds said. “That’s one of the areas I can really improve on. I don’t want to take the game out of the pitcher’s hands and make any silly errors out there.”

Despite Deeds’ success and recognition as both an offensive and defensive player, his goals as a Buckeye stretch far beyond individual accolades.

“I just want to get this team past the regionals and get where we want to go. That’s Omaha (for the College World Series). That’s my number one goal.”