BRADENTON -- On the cusp of being a senior, Brad Zunica has decided to become a freshman.
This time, he'll be experiencing freshman year at Coral Gables and with one of the nation's best collegiate baseball teams.
The Lakewood Ranch junior and a Miami commit, Zunica has decided to forgo his senior year of high school and enroll at Miami for the fall semester.
Once he finishes an economics and government course he is taking online this summer, Zunica will have enough credits to graduate high school. He plans to be an official collegian by the end of August.
"I felt had a chance to be bigger, stronger and faster," Zunica said.
That means the tradition-rich Hurricanes get a 6-foot-7 first baseman/pitcher fresh off a junior season where he hit .468 with eight home runs, 29 RBIs and 28 runs scored while going 4-4 with a 2.60 ERA on the mound.
As for Zunica, he gets an early jump at his education, as well as his quest to become a major-league draft choice.
"It's been a dream of mine since I was little kid," Zunica said of playing professional baseball.
"This speeds up his (draft) eligibility," said Brad's father, Larry. "We've been
discussing this for a while, and with Miami wanting him and the right advisors telling us this was the right thing to do ... .
"He gets an early start on his education, too, which was huge for me. But I was behind him either way."
Zunica said he and his family began discussing early enrollment in early February and met with Miami officials in April.
He made his decision last week. "I'll miss high school," Zunica said, "but I think I'll get over it. ... Once I made the decision, a lot of worry was put to rest."
Zunica's profile on perfectgame.org called him a "high-level two-way talent," and he made the site's underclass second team.
But he knows he has work to do once he becomes a Hurricane.
"I know I have to down there and earn it," Zunica said, "like everyone else."
His dad agreed.
"You've got to go down there and perform," Larry Zunica said. "But if he goes down there and performs, he has a chance of being a higher draft pick."