TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (seminoles.com) – As a baseball pitcher, Tyler Holton has made the short walk from the dugout to the pitching mound countless times.
He made the walk as a youngster playing in his hometown of Tallahassee. He made the walk as a star at Lincoln High School. He made the walk in Dick Howser Stadium as a First-Team All-American for the Seminoles. He made the walk in front of 25,000 fans in Omaha at the College World Series in 2017.
Currently, he makes the walk for the Amarillo Sod Poodles, the AA Minor League affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
If it were not for his current career as a professional baseball player, Holton would be walking across the graduation stage at the Donald L. Tucker Center to shake the hand of President John Thrasher as he receives his bachelor’s degree in Sport Management.
“I always wanted to wear the garnet and gold,” said Holton. “Graduating from Florida State hasn’t hit me yet, but for it to be here now feels great.”
Holton enjoyed an incredibly successful career as a Seminole student-athlete (2016-18) before beginning his professional playing career.
Holton earned Freshman All-American honors and was named to the Tallahassee Regional All-Tournament team in 2016. He was a First-Team All-American in 2017 as he finished his sophomore season with a 10-3 record and a 2.34 ERA. He was a First-Team All-ACC selection, helped pitch the Seminoles to the 2017 ACC Championship, the Tallahassee Regional Championship and into the College World Series.
He performed as well in the classroom at Florida State as he did on the mound and as a hitter for the Seminoles. He earned Dean’s List honors in the fall of 2017 and was named to the ACC Academic Honor Roll in 2016 and 2018.
“My parents made sure my sister, Nicole, and I both knew getting good grades always came first before sports,” said Holton. “My sister set a good example with her work ethic in the classroom and on the court (she played volleyball at Gulf Coast Community College and Montevallo University), so I have to give her credit for making me want to do the same. I know my parents will be proud that both kids have now graduated from college.”
Following his sensational 2017 season, Holton was drafted in the 35th round of the Major League Draft by the Miami Marlins.
Knowing he had unfinished business as a Seminole, he made the decision to return to Florida State for the 2018 season.
After earning the coveted opening day start, he threw less than five complete innings against Xavier on February 16, 2018 before injuring his pitching arm. He struck out six and was cruising to the victory, but his season was over before it had really started. The injury to his pitching arm required the dreaded Tommy John surgery.
Holton allowed faith to guide him through the toughest point of his athletic career.
“Someone once told me that light shines brightest in the darkest times,” said Holton. “I learned more about who I was and what I wanted in life (after the injury). I grew spiritually and had the opportunity to share my testimony through the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. I believe that my injury was just another chapter in my life, not the conclusion.”
Because of his incredible success during the first two seasons of his Florida State career, his playing career was far from over following his injury and subsequent rehabilitation. Holton finished his career as a Seminole with a 13-7 record and a 2.44 ERA.
Holton’s faith was rewarded in June 2018 when he was selected in the ninth round of the MLB Draft by the Diamondbacks. He played the second half of the 2019 season with the Diamondbacks’ short-season A league team in Hillsboro, Oregon, where he finished with a 3-0 record and 2.23 ERA. Based on his performance in Hillsboro, and after losing the 2020 season to the coronavirus, Holton was assigned to the organization’s AA team in Amarillo.
Having completed three full years of his academic course load, Holton decided during the coronavirus layoff, that he wanted to finish his degree from Florida State.
“About a year ago, I made the decision to finish my degree,” said Holton. “Florida State helped a great deal with that process, and now I am proud to say I am a Florida State Alumnus.”
Holton finished his degree requirements with the incredible support of Florida State’s degree completion program. Holton is one of three former Seminole student-athletes who took advantage of the program to graduate during the summer of 2021, along with football stars Dalvin Cook and Devonta Freeman.
“The achievement of graduation for every student-athlete is a time of celebration,” said Charlie Hogan, the Senior Associate Director of the Student Athlete Services Office at Florida State. “The SAAS is proud to support former student-athletes with our degree completion program. We provide academic support services so that student-athletes who left campus due to turning professional or other life circumstances without completing their degrees can finish the academic journey they started with FSU.”
Holton’s journey has led him to taking exams and pitching on the same day more times than he can count. He’s also typed papers in numerous hotel lobbies and more than a few baseball clubhouses.
Holton says his favorite part about playing professional baseball is the opportunity to play the sport he loves in stadiums all over the country.
“The minor league life is a grind,” Holton admits. “It is what I expected; all of the crazy stories you hear are real. I am lucky with the fact that my wife, Storme, and our dog travel with me during the season. We love meeting new people everywhere we go and are enjoying this life the best we can.”
Holton credits his wife, a Florida State graduate and former cheerleader, for giving him the inspiration to earn his degree.
“Storme and I met during our freshman year at FSU,” said Holton. “She has been with me every step of the way through my education and is a big reason I made the decision to finish off the last little bit of school I had left.”
Florida State has allowed Holton to realize many lifelong dreams, including pitching in the College World Series and winning an ACC Championship.
But becoming a graduate of the school he had always dreamed of attending, ranks as one of his biggest accomplishments.
“The College World Series and the ACC Championships have too many memories attached to them for graduation to beat,” said Holton. “But I can say this degree is cooler than any award I have received.”
Summer 2021 Florida State Athletics Graduates
Tyler Ahearn, Baseball, Social Science and Public Policy
Nico Baldor, Baseball, Business (Master’s)
Morgan Chacon, Indoor Volleyball, Exercise Physiology
Ari Cogdell, Track and Field, International Affairs
Dalvin Cook, Football, Interdisciplinary Social Science
Jazmyn Dennis, Track and Field, Sport Management
Adarius Dent, Football, Social Science
Devonta Freeman, Interdisciplinary Social Science
Tyler Holton, Baseball, Sport Management
Bianca Jackson, Women’s Basketball, Interdisciplinary Social Science
Jayla Kirkland, Track and Field, Sports Management
Kasey Knevelbaard, Track and Field, Sport Management (Master’s)
Enzo Le Seguillon, Tennis, Sport management (Master’s)
Travis Light, Basketball, Business Administration (Master’s)
Justin Lindner, Basketball, Sport Management (Master’s)
Shanice Love, Track and Field, Accounting (Master’s)
Jasmyn Martin, Beach Volleyball, Hospitality Entrepreneurship
Elizabeth Mason, Softball, Sport Management (Master’s)
Molly McBaine, Beach Volleyball, Nutrition and Food Science (Master’s)
Vincent Norrman, Golf, Social Science
Jalen Parks, Football
Kristen Pavlisko, Soccer, Psychology
Hunter Perdue, Baseball, Criminology
Avery Poppinga, Beach Volleyball, Sport Management
Greyson Porter, Golf, Business