Uter brings intensity from football days to the diamond

Uter brings intensity from football days to the diamond

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dodgers prospect Kam Uter had to give up his football career to begin his professional baseball career, but he didn't abandon everything he learned on a football field.

"I didn't bring my football mentality last year, but this year I'm bringing my football mentality," Uter said. "I don't care who it is [that I'm facing], in football you don't care who is guarding you, you see a big linebacker across the middle and you're not scared. I'm bringing a new intensity on the mound now and I hype myself up just like I'm in a football game. I bring a lot more intensity now."

Uter was the Dodgers' 12th-round selection in the 2014 Draft, and he is now ranked as the No. 30 prospect within the organization.

The 19-year-old right-hander ultimately opted to sign with the Dodgers, but the decision was not automatic.

Uter had several Division I offers to play both football and baseball, and he was committed to Wake Forest, where he planned to pitch and play wide receiver.

"I have more of a passion for baseball and I knew this opportunity may not come back," Uter said. "Playing football in college, I could get hurt. A lot of people said, 'It might be smart for you to take it now, because you never know if it'll come back.'

"It was pretty hard because I got a lot of calls from the head coach and the receivers coach and even the running backs coach, because he was the one recruiting me the most. It was pretty hard, they're really good guys, they keep in contact with me still. They always say, 'Hey, we still have a jersey for you.'"

While coaches may still have a jersey ready for Uter, the 6-foot-3, 200-pound pitcher insists his football days are done.

Uter still has plenty of room to grow as a prospect, but he has a high ceiling and recognizes his potential -- which is part of the reason he ultimately chose to pursue a baseball career.

"I'm just trying to go as far as I can in baseball," Uter said. "With what I have, I know I have a good chance to go pretty far."

If Uter reaches the Majors, the Dodgers will be happy. If he turns out to be comparable to his idols, they will be ecstatic.

"I watch David Price all the time," Uter said. "I love the intensity, he's such a competitor. I watch his highlights all the time. Of course you could say Clayton Kershaw -- Kershaw is such a good guy. I watched a lot of his videos on YouTube, his 'I am Second' video is very inspirational, talks about God. I love Kershaw, the person off the field, that's who I aspire to be."

William Boor is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.