When former Shaw High standout Cam Greathouse hung up his baseball cleats, he thought he was through with competitive athletics forever.
Once a promising young pitcher in the Chicago Cubs organization, Greathouse, who was drafted in the eighth round of the 2010 Major League draft, was released prior to the 2012 season. He had options to compete in the independent league and his agent said he had interest from a handful of teams. When it came down to it, though, he decided his family was more important.
“I told him to give me a week to think about it,” Greathouse said. “Then, I called back and told him I just had to worry about my daughter.
“I’m naturally competitive. It’s unbelievable. I’ll try to beat anyone at anything. That was the main thing that got me—that I would never compete at a high level again. But, I just looked at my daughter and knew that her life was more important than mine.”
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Never say never, though.
After a little more than a year working at Precision Components International in Midland, Ga., playing slow pitch softball and men’s league baseball to satisfy his need for competition, another opportunity arose for Greathouse.
On Tuesday, Greathouse took his place at Fort Valley State to play quarterback for Wildcats, a position he hasn’t played since high school.
It started when he got a call from an old friend, former Carver football standout DeRon Furr, in January, asking if he had any college eligibility left.
Furr, once thought to be one of the top 50 recruits at his position in the country out of high school, had experienced his own ups and downs in athletics. He began his college career at Auburn before seeing that opportunity and another at Memphis lose steam. He landed at Fort Valley State for the 2012 season.
“I thought it was a joke,” Greathouse said of Furr’s question. “I told him I had four years left in football, and he told me (Fort Valley) needed a quarterback. Two weeks later, I got a call from (Fort Valley coach Donald) Pittman. Told me that DeRon said I could play. I told him I could five years ago.”
That is, perhaps, putting it modestly.
Greathouse went 36-7 as the starting quarterback for Shaw, leading the team to the state semifinals in 2005 and the state finals in 2006. Coming out of high school, he said he loved football but knew he had a better chance to go pro in baseball.
“I had a couple of offers to play football, but I knew I wasn’t going to go pro,” he said. “I do think sometimes what it would have been like if I’d played football.”
Greathouse didn’t know for sure whether he was going to commit to playing for the Wildcats until about a month ago. Finally, after a lot of thought, he decided it would be a great opportunity.
“Obviously, I’ll have to earn my spot, but I told Coach I’d come down and do anything I could to play,” Greathouse said. “If my role is to sit on the bench and help others out, I’ll do that. But my initial goal is to start.”
Beginning on Tuesday, he’ll be working out with DeRon and brother LeRon Furr, who ended up at Fort Valley after a stint at Oklahoma State. Greathouse said he’ll get more into football workouts, playing 7-on-7s and just try to get up to game speed.
“It’s been awhile since I’ve played at that speed,” he said. “I’ve still been active. I haven’t just been sitting on the couch. But I’ll need to get up to speed to react to those big defensive linemen.”It will be a challenge, he said, but one he’ll embrace.
“I’m doing this all for my daughter,” he said. “Any day off, I’ll be back in Columbus to see her, or my mom will meet me halfway when I can’t come. Hopefully, we can get her to all the games. I’m doing this for her.”
Greathouse will get a chance to play football in Columbus again on Nov. 9 when Fort Valley plays Albany State in the Fountain City Classic at A.J. McClung Memorial Stadium.
David Mitchell, 706-571-8571; Follow David on Twitter @leprepsports.