Nate Olson: Future Razorback Lawson Vassar Driven to Win

There aren’t many two-sport athletes that have enjoyed as much success as Lawson Vassar over the past two years. He’s engineered Pulaski Academy to semifinal appearances as the starting quarterback last fall and in baseball last spring as the Bruins’ No. 1 pitcher. While that’s an impressive feat, it’s only made Vassar work harder to ensure his senior baseball season ends with a championship ring.

“Winning a state championship is definitely my No. 1 goal,” said Vassar, who was the backup QB on PA’s 2012 4A State Title team. “After being so close this past baseball season and football season there’s no way that I want to have that feeling again. It hurts getting that close and not being able to finish, so that has been what’s driven me. It would definitely be awesome to go out my senior season with a state championship.”

Vassar (6-foot-3, 190) already saw one of his dreams come true when he inked with the nationally ranked Razorback baseball team last fall.

“Being a Hog has been a dream of mine since I could talk,” he said. “The atmosphere and fans that this state brings to support the Hogs is second to none, and I’ve always thought it would be an amazing feeling to play for my home state. It is an honor to know that I may be a role model to a kid somewhere out there just like I always had those Razorback players that I wanted to be just like.”

Vassar grabbed the attention of the Arkansas staff and other Division I programs with a 90-mph fastball. He finished 9-4 last spring with a sparkling 1.70 ERA and 89 strikeouts. In his first 10 innings this season he gave up just one hit.

Like other in-state diamond recruits, Vassar needed little convincing to head to “The Hill.”

“Arkansas’ ability to win at such a high level was a major factor in my decision,” Vassar said. “I told my parents on our family’s first trip to the College World Series that I was going to play there one day, and I feel like I definitely have a shot at making that dream a reality at Arkansas.

“The passion of the Arkansas fan base was another reason I love the University so much as well. Everywhere you turn someone is wearing Razorback gear, and it will be awesome to get to represent them. The coaches at Arkansas definitely know how to get a player to the next level as well. Coach Van Horn, (Dave) Jorn, and (Todd) Butler know the ins and outs of baseball and will definitely bring the best out of you as a player. The facilities are second-to-none as well.”

Vassar first started playing baseball at four. A few years later he tried football. Baseball became his first love, but he stuck with football. Even when it became apparent he would have to wait his turn under behind star player Fredi Knighten (Arkansas State quarterback), who was a year older.  He never thought about giving up football to focus on baseball, even with the chance of injury.

“Football is definitely one of the toughest sports in the world to play,” Vassar said. “The ability to get up after a hard hit, or to get back out there after throwing an incompletion or getting yelled out by Coach (Kevin) Kelley (PA coach) helped me in all areas of my life. It teaches you lessons that you otherwise wouldn’t have learned.

“So, football helps me in baseball because it taught me perseverance, leadership, and the ability to roll with the punches. You fail so much in baseball, that without perseverance it would be an almost impossible game.”

Vassar also experienced a natural correlation between toeing the rubber and settling under center.

“Being a quarterback and a pitcher are pretty similar, everyone looks at them as the leaders of the team. They can either get the praise or criticism, so you must take each in stride to help in the future,” he said.

Vassar earned a lot of praise this fall. He stepped in for the Parade All-American Knighten, and passed for more than 5,000 yards.

“Fredi was one of the best quarterbacks to come through PA, so I knew there would be big expectations stepping in for him this year,” Vassar said. “Fredi’s ability to make plays both through the air and on the ground was something I knew I couldn’t do, so I tried to soak up everything in the passing game that I could from Fredi and also Coach Kelley to prepare me for this year. We had some very good receivers returning in LJ Wallace (Central Arkansas signee) and Hunter Henry (U of A signee and Parade All-American), which made me stepping in a whole lot easier as well.”

It’s a varsity sports resume any kid would die for. But Lawson Vassar isn’t satisfied. He wants to end his high school baseball career at Baum Stadium where his college dream begins next season.

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