TCU, LSU Chase-ing Tennessee Stud Pitcher As He Enters NCAA Transfer Portal

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Always be closing is the salesman’s modus operandi.

Always be recruiting is the college coach’s M.O., particularly LSU baseball coach Jay Johnson.

Moments after beating No. 1 Wake Forest for the second consecutive night at the College World Series last Thursday to reach the CWS championship series, Johnson took a timeout for a recruiting pitch.

And sources said later it was right down the middle at Tennessee 6-foot-4 pitcher Chase Burns, who had been rumored for several weeks to be on the verge of entering the NCAA Transfer Portal. Burns officially entered the portal on Tuesday.

“Look to my left,” Johnson said at the podium with the nation’s best pitcher Paul Skenes at his left. “If you’re one of the best players in the transfer portal, there’s only one place to come.”

That would be LSU in Johnson’s mind, naturally. And four days later, LSU won the national championship with an 18-4 win over Florida. Skenes was one of the top pitchers in the portal last year out of Air Force, and Johnson flew in to get him.


Skenes (13-2, 1.69 ERA) helped LSU get to the national championship series with a two-hit shutout over eight innings last Thursday with nine strikeouts. He led the nation in 2023 with 209 strikeouts that is the current SEC record for a season. The ERA and win total finished No. 2 nationally. The junior right-hander is expected to be the first or second pick of the Major League Baseball Draft on July 9.

Will Chase Burns End Up An LSU Tiger?

Also sitting with Johnson at the podium were sophomore transfers Tommy White formerly of North Carolina State and Thatcher Hurd formerly of UCLA. White’s two-run, walk-off home run beat Wake Forest Thursday night, 2-0, in the 11th inning. He finished tied for the most RBIs in the nation this season with 105. Hurd held Florida to two runs on two hits in six innings with seven strikeouts for the win over Florida in the national championship game Monday to go to 8-3 on the season.

“Last summer I spent a lot of time with these young men.” Johnson said.

And he would like to spend some time with Chase Burns soon, if he hasn’t already.

Burns at the moment is “the best player in the transfer portal.” He is projected to go in the first 10 or so picks of the 2024 MLB Draft.

The 6-4 sophomore right-hander was 5-3 with a 4.25 ERA and two saves in 2023 for Tennessee with 114 strikeouts in 72 innings. Burns pitched one of the best games in the College World Series on June 19 in beating Stanford, 6-4. He struck out nine in a two-hit shutout over six innings of relief. He became the first reliever at the CWS since 1969 to struck out nine with no walks. Burns also became the first reliever at the CWS since 1997 to throw six scoreless innings.

Chase Burns Wants To Start At Another School

He lost his job as a starter early in the season after going 2-3 with a 6.10 ERA. Burns was 8-2 with a 2.91 ERA as a freshman starter in 2022. He wants to start again, which is why he is transferring. Tennessee coach Tony Vitello was leaning toward him remaining as a reliever.

Johnson has at least two openings as a starter for the 2024 season. Skenes is leaving obviously. And junior No. 2 starter Ty Floyd (7-0, 4.35 ERA, 1 save) is likely to enter the draft as well.

Burns, though, is already considered a lock or near lock for TCU, according to one SEC baseball source. TCU is losing junior starting pitchers Cam Brown and Ryan Vanderhei as well as junior reliever Garrett Wright.

“We have to do what we think is best for the whole group and find a way to try to win games,” Vitello said of moving Burns to reliever in an interview with 99.1 FM in Knoxville on Tuesday. “And in the end, I think that worked fairly well. We wish him the best, and we’ll move on, too.”

Written by Glenn Guilbeau

Guilbeau joined OutKick as an SEC columnist in September of 2021 after covering LSU and the Saints for 17 years at USA TODAY Louisiana. He has been a national columnist/feature writer since the summer of 2022, covering college football, basketball and baseball with some NFL, NBA, MLB, TV and Movies and general assignment, including hot dog taste tests.

A New Orleans native and Mizzou graduate, he has consistently won Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) and Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) awards since covering Alabama and Auburn at the Mobile Press-Register (1993-98) and LSU and the Saints at the Baton Rouge Advocate (1998-2004). In 2021, Guilbeau won an FWAA 1st for a game feature, placed in APSE Beat Writing, Breaking News and Explanatory, and won Beat Writer of the Year from the Louisiana Sports Writers Association (LSWA). He won an FWAA columnist 1st in 2017 and was FWAA's top overall winner in 2016 with 1st in game story, 2nd in columns, and features honorable mention.

Guilbeau completed a book in 2022 about LSU's five-time national champion coach - "Everything Matters In Baseball: The Skip Bertman Story" - that is available at, and Barnes & Noble outlets. He lives in Baton Rouge with his wife, the former Michelle Millhollon of Thibodaux who previously covered politics for the Baton Rouge Advocate and is a communications director.

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  1. TCU is quietly one of the better baseball programs in the Big 12, so for them go snag Chase Burns would be a big get for Kirk Sarloos’ program (I may be a tad biased as a TCU fan). Pitching was an issue early on in the season, but they got hot at the right time (just ask Pig Sooey Nation) and ended up in Omaha for the first time since 2017.

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