Travis Sykora didn't plan to commit so soon. But there he was, dialing up Nebraska baseball coaches on his phone last weekend after a visit that went better than expected.
Haymarket Park left an impression on the projected middle infielder from Round Rock, Texas. So did the fan base, even in an exhibition loss to Kansas. Sykora gave his verbal pledge soon thereafter, becoming the 15th player to commit to coach Will Bolt and his staff since they were hired in June.
But this one was different. Sykora is 15 years old — a Class of 2023 prospect — and a high school freshman.
"My dad always talks about how time flies by," Sykora told The World-Herald. "These four years of high school are going to go by quick. It's also a sigh of relief that I don't have to worry about this recruiting process for the next four years. I just have to keep working hard and just be ready to help out the Huskers."
NU recruiting coordinator Lance Harvell and Sykora have known each other for a couple years. When Harvell — who spearheaded recruiting at Sam Houston State the previous five seasons — left for Nebraska, the teenager said he was "bummed." But that all changed after seeing the situation in Lincoln.
Sykora has only been playing baseball for about five years but quickly gained attention for his slick fielding, arm strength, hitting potential and projectable frame. Now 6-foot-2 and 160 pounds, he has almost exclusively played baseball for select teams.
Nico Moran, who owns and coaches for Performance Baseball Texas, said it is rare for any high school freshman to commit and for a college program to accept it. There's a reason for the ones that happen.
"Travis is without a doubt one of the most polished defenders in the country at the shortstop position," Moran said. "It has been a goal of his to make every play look routine and he has done a really good job of that. ... With a skill set that is far and above his peers already present, he has merely scratched the surface of what his body projects."
Sykora said he had other offers and interest from Texas, Texas State, TCU and Sam Houston State. But an 11-hour drive to see some of his favorite coaches at their new school convinced him to wrap up his recruiting process — even if it was earlier than most.
"Growing up, people were telling me I was going to go places," Sykora said. "I knew (Nebraska) was the place I wanted to go."