STARKVILLE – Denver McQuary will always be remembered for his exploits on the football field.
The former All-State defensive back from Houston High School broke Steve McNair’s state interception record and finished his prep career with 33 picks.
Nowadays, McQuary is making a name for himself on the mound at Mississippi State. The freshman right-hander pitched five strong innings to pick-up the win at Texas A&M over the weekend and has earned the role as the Bulldogs’ Saturday starter.
“The more he’s gone out there, the better he’s done,” said MSU coach Andy Cannizaro. “His fastball command has gotten better. His strike-throwing ability has gotten better. He’s starting to really command his change-up and developing a really good feel for his breaking ball.”
McQuary is currently 2-1 with a 3.57 earned run average, 30 strikeouts and 27 walks over 35 1/3 innings of work. He has started both of the Bulldogs’ midweek games at Trustmark Park in Pearl this season including the Governor’s Cup against Ole Miss where he pitched a career-long 5 1/3 innings.
“It meant the world to me and was my first collegiate win,” McQuary said. “I’ve got chill bumps just talking about it. At the beginning of that game I struggled, but in the outcome I ended up doing really well. I just fought throughout the whole game and am extremely blessed to be a part of that.”
The former Class 4A Player of the Year was recruited to State as a two-way player after hitting .343 with 36 doubles, 10 triples, a homer, 58 RBIs and 129 runs scored during his high school career.
While most of McQuary’s action has been on the bump, he has played in two games at second and third base with one at bat and a pinch running appearance. The 6-foot-2, 187-pounder continues to take batting practice and infield on occasion to keep himself sharp should the team need him in that role in the future.
“Next year is a new season and we’ll be losing a few guys on the infield,” McQuary said. “We’ll see what happens.”
As for football, McQuary could have explored that route in college as well. In the end, he chose to focus solely on baseball and attend the same university as his father and grandfather before him.
“I had some options but I thought doing both sports at this level would be really hard on you,” McQuary said. “I’ve just always wanted to play baseball here so that’s what I chose to do.”
However, his love for football lingers and he can often be caught reliving his glory days on the gridiron online.
“I love the game of football and definitely miss it every single day,” McQuary said. “I even go back on Hudl and watch some of my old games.
“I even talk to kids from my hometown and try to help them improve. I love talking football all the time.”