ATLANTA – Jeff Francoeur faced a difficult decision after he graduated from Parkview High School in Lilburn, Georgia back in 2002.
At the time Francoeur was committed to play football and baseball for Clemson and enrolled in June ahead of the 2002 MLB Draft.
But when his hometown team, the Atlanta Braves, called his name with the ninth overall pick of the draft, he opted to pursue a career in professional baseball and it obviously worked out for him.
“I just became a Clemson fan, I loved the university and I loved everything about it,” Francoeur told The Clemson Insider at Truist Park on Saturday. “I just had to do what was best for me at the time and that was play baseball.”
This summer two Clemson enrollees, Bubba Chandler and Will Taylor, faced a similar decision-making process and took divergent paths.
Chandler opted to pursue the big leagues and was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates with the 72nd overall pick in the third round of the 2021 MLB Draft.
But Will Taylor turned down professional baseball offers with large incentives to play football and baseball for the Tigers.
Francoeur recalled the difficulty of choosing between two sports you love but his first round selection eased the burden of that decision.
“I think it’s like anything if you get two or three million dollars and every opportunity to make it to the big leagues it’s tough to turn that down it really is,” Francoeur said. “They are going to make sure you have everything you need to be successful to give you that opportunity.”
Francoeur still doles out advice to young players faced with the choice between a two-sport college career and by-passing the amateur ranks to turn professional.
“I tell them look make the best decision with you and your family,” he said. “My dad always said you go to college to figure out what you want to do afterwards and for me I just had the opportunity to be able to figure it out before. And that’s kind of what my dad was saying.”
The decision paid off for Francoeur who wrapped up a 12-year MLB career in 2016 that included six seasons with the Braves. He finished his tenure with a career .261 batting average, 698 RBIs and 160 home runs.
Francoeur maintains a positive relationship with Clemson and remains an avid Tiger fan despite his residence in the heart of Georgia Bulldog country.
He joked that Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney always reminds him that he has four years of NCAA eligibility remaining to play for the Tigers.
“Dabo still tells me when I text him that I have four years of eligibility but the only thing I could do is hold an extra point now. I don’t know if I’m worth much of anything else,” Francoeur said.
While Francoeur may not return to play for Clemson he told TCI he will certainly be at Bank of America Stadium on Saturday to pull for his Tigers against Georgia.
Football season has finally arrived. Time to represent your Tigers and show your stripes!