Michigan transfer talks decision to join Bakich at Clemson

Michigan transfer talks decision to join Bakich at Clemson

Baseball

Michigan transfer talks decision to join Bakich at Clemson

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Willie Weiss became the latest Michigan baseball player to follow Erik Bakich to Clemson.

A day after infielder Riley Bertram revealed he will finish his collegiate career with the Tigers, another Wolverine transfer has done the same. Weiss, a right-handed pitcher, announced via social media Wednesday night that he will spend his final collegiate season at Clemson as a graduate transfer.

Weiss wasn’t planning on doing a fifth year. In fact, he figured he was done with school.

However, once he saw Bakich get the job at Clemson, he started to think about it a little bit. After talking with his family, he decided to enter the transfer portal. Shortly thereafter, Bakich reached out. After everything Bakich has done for Weiss and the opportunities he’s given him, the Portland (Ore.) native had a hard time saying no.

Weiss couldn’t turn him down.

“I went to Michigan for my first four years, loved every bit of it,” Weiss told The Clemson Insider. “It was the best four years ever. I’m super happy I made that choice, but part of why it was the best experience was because of Coach Bakich. He’s the best coach I’ve ever had. He’s just about the right things. He teaches all his players how to just be better men, husbands and fathers in the future.

“I’ve learned a lot from him. I want for nothing more than to play another year with him. He’s just a great all-around guy that gave me an opportunity at Michigan. He’s just a great all-around leader and he’s a winner. I believe he could win with 12-year-olds at the college level.”

Another part of it was getting to experience a different environment. Weiss is excited to experience something different — under the same head coach — but with a warmer climate and a different atmosphere.

“Playing at Michigan was awesome, I loved every bit of Michigan, but one thing it kind of lacked was just a consistent baseball fanbase,” he said. “We’d always go to these hostile environments with packed houses and they were just rooting for their team. I think it would be really cool to experience a place like Clemson where baseball is so big with so many fans and they’re all cheering for you, not against you.”

During his freshman season in Ann Arbor, Weiss was the closer. In the following season, Michigan dealt with the ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic, while Weiss didn’t pitch as he dealt with a minor injury. During his junior season, Weiss returned to the closer role. This past year, he was more of a long reliever, but also had some save opportunities as well.

Weiss posted a 3.67 earned run average in three full seasons at Michigan. He went 3-2 with a 5.29 ERA in 22 relief appearances this season. Weiss allowed 27 hits and struck out 37 in 34 innings with opponents batting .227 against him.

Weiss has a lot of confidence in his slider, which he referred to as his “go-to pitch.” He also has a good fastball mix and an occasional changeup — a pitch he’s still working to perfect.

What can Clemson fans expect out of him once he arrives in Tiger Town?

“They can expect a good teammate that’s gonna be loud in the dugout supporting all his teammates,” Weiss said. “And, someone who’s gonna give it his all every time I toe the rubber. I just try to compete as hard as I can; me versus you. I just go out there and give it my all for my teammates and, hopefully, give us a good chance to win. You’ll also see some goggles, some specs on the mound.”

Weiss was named the No.19 overall MLB draft prospect in the Big Ten Conference by d1baseball.com.  

The draft has always been Weiss’ dream. Ever since he was a kid, he’s wanted to play pro baseball. He’s just waiting to see what happens with the draft, but he views it as a win-win either way.

“I’m just looking forward to whatever happens,” he said.

Regardless, Weiss is ready to play for a winner again. Bakich has already talked about “reloading” rather than “rebuilding” at Clemson and part of that reloading is adding players like Weiss to the roster.

“Like I said before, Coach Bakich is a winner,” Weiss added. “He will maximize the potential out of every one of his players and his main question for every year is ‘Did the team reach its max potential?’ He’s just really good about player development, working 1-on-1 with kids and just making sure every player reaches their potential and gets into a role that helps the team win. Every role on a team is important, no matter what it is. I completely agree with him. Right when he steps in, I believe we will win. He’s just a winner.”

Photo courtesy of Bruce Thorson/USA Today Sports

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