Scott Price says hello to countless individuals every day as they briskly shuffle into campus.
Well, not literally of course, but the senior outfielder's image is plastered on a large billboard that sits along the well-traveled Kingston Pike entrance into the University of Tennessee.
This welcome-to-the-neighborhood type capacity is solid practice for Price as his role in 2014 requires those same strong introductory skills.
As Dave Serrano's newly-crowned leadoff hitter, he'll be the first to greet many opposing pitchers throughout the season.
And if Price's gaudy numbers to date are any indication as to how his initial season as the Vols' official lineup catalyst will go, no hurler should be anxious to meet the senior's acquaintance.
Through four games, Price is currently hitting .429 with 12 total bases, seven RBI and a ridiculous .857 slugging percentage.
His three-run double on Monday headlined a four-RBI performance and provided the decisive offensive blow in Tennessee's 8-2 win over Purdue.
His first inning blast to left field — UT's only home run of the year — on Wednesday ignited the Vols' offense in a 5-3 win over Appalachian State.
But wait, leadoff hitters are supposed to be the small ball specialists with little power, who are asked to steal bases and draw walks, not drive in runs and launch pitches into the street.
They're the ballplayers of a pesky, bothersome nature who don the extra baggy uniform and typically sit on the front row of the team picture – because that's where the smallest guys go of course.
Price, however, is thriving despite meeting exactly zero of these traditional descriptions.
At 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, the Leesville, S.C., native fits soundly into his baseball attire and fills up the left-handed batters box with relative ease.
In a collegiate career split between Tennessee and South Carolina Sumter junior college, Price has swiped just 17 bags in 27 attempts. In more than 500 collegiate at-bats, he has walked less than 10 percent of the time.
"The coaches have really given me free reign at taking my own approach up there as the No. 1 hitter," Price said.
And for the man who last season finished as the sixth-leading hitter in arguably the toughest baseball conference in the country, who can argue with his alternative methods.
As a former middle-of-the-order guy – he batted third or fourth in every game he played in last year – whose's name has topped a lineup card just once in his collegiate years, who can blame Price him for continuing his run-producing, power-driven ways.
He doesn't know any different.
"He one of the better hitters in the SEC , one of the better hitters in the country," Serrano said. "The opponents get the opportunity to face him right out of the gate."
And with that offensive thumper mentality quickly in pitcher's faces before there's hardly even time to settle in, Price provides an added dose of versatility to this UT offense; a trait that will come in handy when the competition ramps up in conference play.
So forget the stolen bases. Throw out the small stature. Get used to the uniform fitting.
Because Price isn't morphing into a traditional leadoff man anytime soon.
Dargan Southard is a junior in journalism and electronic media. He can be reached at email@example.com.