That part didn’t get past Gamecocks football coach Bill Clark.
“I’m glad it didn’t,” he interjected softly.
Sometimes the best-laid plans work out best for somebody else.
Landrum had every intention of playing baseball and football when he arrived at Auburn, but was steered toward the football field before he ever got to the collegiate diamond. The dreams of becoming the next Bo Jackson or Frank Thomas never materialized.
“I got there and got to playing football and my coach wanted me to go through one spring (practice) before I started baseball," Landrum said. “I didn’t get the chance to go out for baseball … so I ended up staying with football and kind of found a love for the game. After that, I just kind of kept playing football and just never went back to (baseball).”
Eventually, he put Auburn in his rear-view mirror, too. He left the SEC school with teammate Harris Gaston in search of playing time and a regular position after being moved from defense to fullback. Today, he is one of the leaders on an aggressive JSU defense that ranks among the national leaders in sacks.
His availability was a boon to a new coaching staff trying to rebuilding a defense.
“We knew when we had an opportunity to get him it was a big deal to us,” Clark said. “To get a guy who came from a program where they expected to win and that’s what he brought to us.”
Through the first eight games this year, the sophomore defensive end leads the Gamecocks with 8.5 tackles for loss, shares the team lead in sacks with nose Caleb Lawrence with four and has four quarterback hurries.
“We worked so hard all summer to pressure the quarterback and to see it pay off it just feels good,” Landrum said.
Landrum was a pitcher and outfielder in high school, but there hasn’t been any discussion of him playing baseball at JSU so far.
While football is Landrum’s game now, baseball still is part of his DNA.
His father, Roosevelt, played in college before blowing out a knee at North Alabama. His uncle Cedric played two seasons in the big leagues, leading the Cubs in stolen bases in 1991. One cousin, Dee, hit 73 homers in five seasons in the Toronto and Cleveland minor-league systems. Another cousin, Tito – not to be confused with the Tito Landrum, who was a postseason hero for the Orioles and Cardinals in the early 80s – played baseball for Rudy Abbott at JSU and spent six years in the Dodgers’ minor-league system.
Maybe that’s the reason Chris said he watched the baseball playoffs this year only “until the Dodgers got put out.”
Cedric, now a travel-team coach and high school hitting instructor in Texas, said what he remembers of his nephew is he had what it took if somebody were to give him a baseball shot.
“I didn’t see him play a lot, but just from his tools I think he could’ve been successful,” Cedric said. “Somebody could give him a chance just because of his size and athleticism.
“He has no fear. He’ll meet any challenge head on.”
Al Muskewitz covers Jacksonville State sports for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3577.