Packard: An all-around All-American
By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector
Sunday, February 3, 2019
In addition to being a four-time East Carolina athletics director honor roll member in the classroom and boasting a .406 batting average in 2018 that landed him on seven college baseball All-America teams, Bryant Packard enjoys tuning in to TV shows Jeopardy and Family Feud at night.
Packard, a communication major, is humble about his sometimes shaky aptitude to correctly answer Jeopardy questions, but he isn’t shy about bragging on his Fortnite skills.
During his free time in the morning, the Greenville native can be found trying to sneak in some time playing the video game on Sony PlayStation. The gaming sessions also keep him connected to a Pirate and former D.H. Conley High School standout like himself.
“I’m still true to the roots and still a gamer and still getting Ws, but not as much as I used to,” said Packard, a 6-foot-3, 203-pound left-handed hitter who, with continued prowess for the preseason No. 11-ranked Pirates, could emerge as a national player of the year candidate. “I have online class Monday, Wednesday and Friday, so I’ll try to knock out some gaming with (former ECU and Conley pitcher) Davis Kirkpatrick in the morning. We still like to play a little bit.”
Packard said the latest he has stayed up at night to play Fornite, the popular video game that appeals worldwide to a wide age range of players, was last summer when he was at the Cape Cod League and was up until about 5 a.m. with other baseball players.
He also was a member of the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team last summer along with ECU teammate and best friend Jake Agnos and Pirate head coach Cliff Godwin.
With ECU’s season opener now less than two weeks away, relaxed times have given way to the baseball-focused Packard, who is a clear leader for the Pirates on and off the field.
“He’s really witty and can say something funny, just off the cuff,” Godwin said of Packard, who mainly plays left field and hit 14 home runs with 50 RBIs during his breakout sophomore campaign. “He doesn’t have to think about it and it’s genuine. The other thing I appreciate about him is he can be loose when it is time to be loose, but he also can flip the switch and when he’s on the field, it’s time to be about business and get better.”
He is roommates with veteran pitchers Agnos, Evan Voliva and Sam Lanier.
Packard is a junior prospect for this year’s Major League Baseball draft. Like some other Pirate draft-eligible juniors who received draft attention out of high school, including Agnos, Packard is likely to forego his senior season and begin his professional career at some point later this year.
“He’s probably the funniest kid I’ll ever meet, and you never know what he is going to say,” said Agnos, a left-handed hurler from Haymarket, Va. “It is so awesome to have a roommate like that and a best friend like that. When you get out of practice and have been at the field for a long time, you can go home and just relax and joke around.
“He is an awesome asset to just kind of take your mind off of baseball. I couldn’t ask for a better roommate, and I think a friendship like that is one that will last a lifetime.”
Packard, who catches and throws right-handed but bats lefty, started every game of his high school career at D.H. Conley from 2013-16. He was an all-state player all four years and a key recruit for Godwin to keep in Greenville.
As his accolades have grown since then, at East Carolina and nationally, aspects of Packard’s personality also have moved to the forefront.
Even Packard admits he has noticed natural progression in his comfort level in college and with the Pirates.
“I was a little nervous during the fall of my freshman year and still that weird kid, because you are nervous and trying to impress the seniors like any other freshman,” he said. “But once you get into the program and realize what’s cool and what is not cool, I guess, you develop some of the feel. Just being around the guys and having some of these crazy haircuts and things can make you feel comfortable. This is a good team and they make you feel like you belong.”
Contact Ronnie Woodward at firstname.lastname@example.org, 252-329-9592 and follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.