How Tony Vitello’s first recruit witnessed the rise of Tennessee baseball into a powerhouse.

Jake Rucker received a voicemail from an unfamiliar Arkansas number. After a game at the Sunbelt Classic in McAlester, Oklahoma, in June 2017, Rucker boarded the Team Tennessee bus, curious about the notification. He listened to the voicemail and was astonished when the caller introduced himself as Tony Vitello, the newly appointed Tennessee baseball coach. Vitello invited Rucker to join him in Knoxville.

“Tony’s call was like a dream come true,” Rucker said Thursday. “I never imagined something like that would happen to me.”