CORINTH — Jackson Owens put his college future in ink Wednesday morning, but in his mind, his future has been in stone for years.
The Lake Dallas senior signed a national letter of intent to play baseball at Florida State after committing the summer following his sophomore season, and Owens said he is ready to be relaxed and have fun during his senior season this spring.
“No one can say anything now, like I shouldn’t be going there or anything,” Owens said. “Last year, I thought about it too much and tried to prove to everyone why I was going there.
“I’ve been waiting for this day forever. It feels good. I think it’ll be really good for the season coming up.”
Owens got the offer from the Seminoles as a sophomore after he hit .324 with two doubles, two triples, 11 stolen bases and 20 RBIs as the Falcons’ center fielder. Now he’s a member of the 18th-ranked recruiting class in the country, according to Baseball America.
“After watching them every year on TV, it’s just a team I always liked and the tradition there was big,” Owens said of the Seminoles, who have been to three of the last six College World Series. “After going down there and seeing how nice everything is and how nice all the coaches are, it was easy to make up my mind.”
Lake Dallas head coach John Tompkins called Owens a “five-tool player,” one of the greatest compliments a baseball player can receive. Owens can hit for average and power, has defensive range and a strong arm, and is good on the base paths. As a Falcon, Owens has played second base, third base, shortstop and outfield and has pitched.
“He’s very projectable,” Tompkins said. “He’s a great athlete. I think that’s what makes him so attractive — his athleticism. Not to mention that he’s a great character kid. He’s going to do right all the time. You don’t have to worry about that with him. He’s not a vocal leader, but he leads through his actions. He’s a real hard worker.”
It’s his work ethic that has Tompkins confident Owens will bounce back from a disappointing junior season in which they both said he felt too much pressure to live up to his status as a Florida State pledge and to carry an offense that struggled at times throughout the season.
Owens got off to a hot start in tournament play before being pitched around and pressing too much to finish the season with a .275 batting average and just nine RBIs with four home runs and four triples.
“Last year he put a lot of pressure on himself, feeling like he had to carry us offensively,” Tompkins said. “In nondistrict play, he had great numbers. I think in district play our district was smart enough to know if they pitched around him, other guys would have to beat them. I think a lot of people did that. He got himself out last year. Not many people got him out; I think he got himself out trying to do too much.”
Owens said he’s ready to redeem himself and just have fun during his senior year while hopefully getting the Falcons back to the postseason after missing out in 2013. Lake Dallas went to the regional quarterfinals in 2012 when Owens was a sophomore.
“I don’t want to press too hard and just have fun,” Owens said. “After signing today, I’m for sure just going to go out there and just stay laid back and have fun.”
ADAM BOEDEKER can be reached at 940-566-6872 and via Twitter at @aboedeker.