Tyler Paul Wentworth made the decision to attend Clemson University for baseball on the eve of the opening football game versus Merced (Samantha Schmidt).

'He wants to win': Clemson-bound baseball prospect focused on football

James Burns

Since he was an eighth grader, Tyler Paul Wentworth’s future has been a topic of conversation.

Where would he go to high school – Manteca, Ripon or Central Catholic? Would he follow his father’s footsteps to Oklahoma State? What sports would he play – football or baseball … or both?

For now, those questions have been laid to rest. The Central Catholic dynamo and three-sport star has committed to Clemson University in South Carolina, where he’ll chase his baseball dreams as a member of coach Erik Bakich’s recruiting class.  

In Bakich’s first season, Clemson won 22 of its last 25 games en route to the Atlantic Coast Conference championship.

Wentworth’s decision didn’t come easily. He took two trips to Clemson before committing to the ACC giant, spurning offers from other Power-5 programs, including Oklahoma State and Louisiana State University.

While he starts his senior year on the football field, Wentworth is a three-sport athlete who also features on CC's basketball and baseball teams (Samantha Schmidt).

“(Recruiting) was an absolute blast, but my recruiting has been ongoing since I was in eighth grade,” Wentworth said. “As a family, we discussed it and decided to take our time from the very get go. That was one of the most important things – to make sure I know about the facilities and the school, and the coaches before I made a decision.

“It felt right,” he added. “The coaches are amazing. The whole staff is filled with great (baseball) guys and even greater people.”

LSU, from the mighty Southeastern Conference, had been courting the 6-foot-5 athlete since he arrived on campus at Central Catholic. Oklahoma State also called on Wentworth, whose father Kevin was a two-time All-American golfer—he was a member of the Cowboys’ 1991 NCAA title team — and inaugural Ben Hogan Award winner before turning pro.

In the end, the younger Wentworth chose Clemson, and the timing couldn’t have been any better. His commitment came on the eve of the football season, and the decision was a weight lifted off his shoulders.

Finishing out his senior year is now his full focus, beginning with football.

Central Catholic, perennially the region’s top large-school program, rolled to a season-opening win over Merced. The Raiders flexed their muscle on offense, bludgeoning the Bears with the run (388 yards, five touchdowns) and slicing them with the pass (37.5 yards per completion). Wentworth was 4 of 8 for 150 yards with one touchdown and an interception.

“As much excitement as I have to play at a great place like Clemson, it’s a weight off the chest,” he said of his commitment. “Having the decision made, I’m at peace with my decision. It helps knowing where I’m going. I can let it loose and have fun playing football and basketball for the last time. It’s sad in that regard, but I know it’s for the best. It’s nice to be at peace, knowing where I’ll be next summer.”

Wentworth said he has no plans to graduate early. He wants to savor every moment of his senior season. Wentworth is a central figure on the Raiders’ three biggest programs – football, basketball, and baseball.

On the hardcourt, Wentworth averaged 12.5 points and 7.1 rebounds for the Valley Oak League champions. In the spring, he guided Central Catholic to its 12th Sac-Joaquin Section title and first CIF Northern California Division III championship.

The thought of duplicating those feats was enough to keep Wentworth on campus through graduation.

“I’d like to run it back,” he said with a laugh.

Wentworth is already focused on the post season with his eyes on the VOL championships and beyond (Samantha Schmidt).

First things first: Wentworth is back under center for a fourth varsity season, and he and the Raiders must navigate another thorny schedule. Central Catholic travels to Holy Bowl rival St. Mary’s on Friday.

“He is the best quarterback in the area,” Central Catholic coach Roger Canepa said. “He’s probably one of the best quarterbacks in the state. He’s that good.

“There are a number of colleges he talked about for football, but I never tried to sway him. I want the kids to do what they want to do.”

The Raiders also have dates with Bishop Manogue of Reno (Sept. 1), Serra of San Mateo (Sept. 8) and Pleasant Valley of Chico (Sept. 22) before opening VOL play at East Union on Sept. 29.

“CC has always had a great football program,” Wentworth said. “The goal is always to win a championship, beginning first with the VOL. We’ve been pretty good in the past. …

“Coming up short in the section (playoffs) was tough for us to swallow. I’m excited to see if we can muster the energy to get past the semis. Playing Division I is a different beast, (but) I like playing the best. It’s the one thing I love.”

A year ago, the Raiders, four-time CIF State champions with an enrollment of about 400 students, reached the semifinal round of the Division I playoffs. There, they met Folsom, the eventual section champion and CIF State Division I-AA finalist.

“With the talent we have, you never know. I’m excited to see where we go,” Wentworth said. “I want to see our team win, but I want to have fun with the guys.”

Added Canepa: “We’re the underdog (this week). We’ll be the underdog in Reno. We’ll be the underdog at home (versus Serra). It’s OK. That’s why you play football at CC. You have to play tough people to get better. We’re in Division I now.

“We made the semis last year and we want to win the sucker. (Wentworth) is a competitor. He wants to win, too. Competitors want to play … they want the big stages … they want a packed house.”