Forget Graduation, UNC's Michael Says Let's Play Ball

Todd CallahanContributor IJune 13, 2009

When the North Carolina Tar Heels were playing fall ball and preparing for the upcoming season, Levi Michael wasn't even on the team.

While Dustin Ackley and Alex White were working out and going to class, their future teammate was going to student council meetings and attending Fellowship of Christian Athlete meetings at North Davidson High School in Lexington, N.C.

A starter since his freshman year, Michael could play nearly every position on the field for the Black Knights and head coach Mike Meadows. He was a three-time all-conference player and was named to the all-state as a junior.

With little to prove playing against teams like Mount Tabor, West Forsyth and RJ Reynolds high schools, Michael came to a decision last fall that has made all the difference in the world for the young freshman and the Tar Heels.

Instead of goofing off with friends and playing his senior year with the Knights, Michael elected to enroll early at North Carolina, earned the starting job at second base, and was named to the Louisville Slugger Freshman All-America Team.

Not bad for a guy who missed his high school graduation Friday.

Instead of walking with his class, Michael, who has started all but one game at second base for the Heels, was with the rest of the Tar Heels, in a hotel in Omaha, Neb. The Heels are preparing for the their College World Series opener against No. 5 Arizona State, slated for Sunday at 2 p.m.

It is the fourth straight time the Tar Heels have reached the College World Series. When Carolina began that streak, Michael had just completed his freshman year of high school.

Now Michael, who took five finals in December and the next day moved into the dorms at Chapel Hill, has made the transition from high school to college ball with relative ease.

Heading into the College World Series, Michael is batting .298 with 13 home runs and 56 RBI. He also is tied for the team lead with four triples. Not bad for a recent high school graduate.