When Casey Mulholland first signed a National Letter of Intent to play baseball at Ole Miss in 2009 he thought November 2010 would be a time to reflect on his fall performance with the Rebels and prepare for his spring season in the Southeastern Conference.
But a March elbow injury derailed those plans, and instead, Mulholland had a bit of a Groundhog Day Wednesday, as he signed an NLI for a second time. Instead of the star of the 2010 signing class, Mulholland is set to enroll at Ole Miss for the fall 2011 academic semester.
Casey Mulholland signed with Ole Miss baseball Wednesday and plans to enroll for the summer or fall semester."My dad and I sat down and signed the official document at the house," Mulholland said. "Time has flown by. It seems like the past year has been a blur. I'm shellshocked it's Singing Day."
Mulholland, a top-tier right-handed pitcher and outfielder from Bradenton (IMG), Fla., tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow during a game against Seminole (Fla.) in March and had Tommy John surgery to repair the injury on March 31.
While on a visit to Oxford, Miss., to watch Ole Miss play Florida, Mulholland and the Rebel coaching staff put together a plan. Instead of enrolling at Ole Miss and redshirting to rehabilitate the injury, Mulholland enrolled as a postgraduate student at State College of Florida.
His eligibility clock doesn't start because he's taking only part-time hours, and he's rehabbing the elbow at his IMG -- Mulholland's alma mater and one of the top baseball school schools in the country. His year at SCF is being paid for, courtesy of a Bright Futures scholarship. Mulholland is taking six academic hours this semester and plans to take nine in the spring.
Nearly halfway through his postgraduate year, Mulholland is handling the college coursework, and his baseball comeback is on schedule.
"I had one tiny setback with tendonitis and my elbow flared up, but that's over, and we're on course," Mulholland said. "I threw (Wednesday) at 90 feet and feel strong. The rehab schedule lets me do weight training, so I'm pounding that as long as I stay within my ability, and I'm excited. I'll be better than I was before. I know I'm a better product."
Since the injury occurred, Mulholland has steadfastly stuck to a 15-month plan to return to the mound. That remains the case, and it creates a unique situation as far as his draft stock. Since Mulholland chose to be part-time and delay his eligibility clock, he's also eligible for the 2011 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft. A year ago, Mulholland was a top target and guaranteed to have a tough decision if he stayed healthy.
This time, it's all speculation. He'll entertain scouts and go through the process, but it's not his main focus. Mulholland is about the future, and professional teams will have to fit into his schedule.
"I'll have about a month before the draft to showcase myself," Mulholland said. "The thing is according to my rehab schedule, I don't know that I can do what the scouts want. I may not can throw two innings or 20 curve balls. I can only offer what that rehab says. They'll have to go off their old notes. What's important to me is my arm and my future. It's bigger than pre-draft workouts.
"I don't know what they'll think of me. I know I can go to Ole Miss for two years, get stronger, bigger and pitch well. Then, I'll be SEC-proven."
Mulholland will compete and workout with IMG's postgraduate team through at least May. Then, he'll decide to either enroll at Ole Miss for summer classes or stay at IMG until fall semester. His official visit will likely be the Mississippi State series.
It's been a weird year for Mulholland, but on Wednesday, his unorthodox plan took a big step, as he signed another NLI.
"I'm motivated and have a chip on my shoulder," Mulholland said. "People see me hurt, and they forget about me, think less of me as a player. I'll be back, and I'm determined to be successful."Yahoo! Buzz