The Grind, presented by the Bank of Clarendon: Laurence Manning’s June sets sights on dream with South Carolina baseball


Laurence Manning senior Tyler June has always dreamed of suiting up for South Carolina.

He spent countless fall Saturdays watching the Gamecocks on the gridiron and visualized himself joining the likes of Alshon Jeffrey or Jadeveon Clowney as the next great star at USC.

While Tyler is an excellent quarterback, football wasn't the sport that would get him to South Carolina. His calling was on the diamond.

The Swampcat was first offered by USC as a sophomore and committed on the spot. Three years later, he officially signed with the Gamecocks.

Unfortunately, Tyler's senior season has been cut short because of a torn labrum, but that just means his focus can shift to Carolina even sooner. After years of dreaming, his days of being a Gamecock are soon to be a reality.

"I've dreamed of this since I was a little young kid. I didn't know which sport it was going to be, but I kind of always felt like I'd be at South Carolina doing something one day," Tyler said. "It's huge for me, and my family and I can't wait."


Tyler's love of baseball dates all the way back to his infancy. His dad, Charlton, still remembers Tyler being only one or two and refusing to hit off a tee. After watching Charlton pitch to his brother, he demanded the same. They would always play in their living room, though Tyler quickly outgrew the ability to play indoors.

But those early days of playing inside planted some important seeds. When Tyler first picked up the bat, he was swinging right-handed but had his hands in the wrong place. Instead of his left hand sitting at the bottom of the bat, it was at the top of his grip, as if he were swinging lefty. Instead of flipping his grip, Charlton told him to try the other batter's box, partially so he'd keep swinging the bat inside without getting in too much trouble from his mother, June.

"He was batting cross-handed while right-handed, so I made him switch over. When he was batting left-handed, his hands were in the right position," Charlton said. "He ended up getting so good that we ended up having to take the whole game outside. Even then, he was always way above his age. We always let him play an age or two ahead of his age group. That's pretty much how he got started."

Tyler quickly started to hit from both sides of the plate, and he was sure to switch to a proper grip when batting right-handed. As he grew up, he honed his ability to hit on either side of the dish.

"In rec ball, I used to do one at bat left-handed and one at bat right-handed," Tyler said. "And then until I got a hit, I wouldn't switch. If I got a hit left-handed, I would switch; if not, I would stay left-handed until I got a hit. All the way up until I was 10 or 11, I did that."

That game within a game helped Tyler excel on both sides of the plate, which helped when colleges started to call.

"I think that's a huge, huge plus in my game," he said. "I think that's the main reason I got recruited, because I'm a switch-hitting middle infield fielder. That doesn't really come around often. It's just another tool I can put in my bag."


As Tyler grew up, he split his time between football and baseball. In fact, he thought the gridiron would deliver his dream of playing for South Carolina until he got to high school. He was the starting varsity quarterback as a freshman, while he spent that spring on the JV squad. That quickly changed thanks to a friend.

"Around freshman year, I was heavy set on football," Tyler said. "I wanted to get to play college football somewhere, and then one of my buddies that I played JV with, Bryson Hodge, he kind of dragged me into a summer team that he was playing with previously and had a great summer, and then college coaches were texting me, and then everything kind of just flipped after that."

That summer after his freshman year, Tyler first made contact with South Carolina. During football season, his focus was on leading the Swampcats to the state championship game, but they fell short of the title game for the only time in Tyler's high school career.

But Tyler didn't linger in that sadness for long.

"They started picking back up whenever football season was more towards the end, and then I went up for a camp in January and had a great camp, and then I got a call about a month later," Tyler said. "I was in chemistry class, actually, and they offered me, and it was just surreal."

It was an exceptional moment for Charlton. He and his wife both attended South Carolina and always wanted to see their son follow suit.

"Being a manly type guy, it almost brought me to tears, to be honest," he said. "I was so excited for him. The first thing we did was congratulate him. But he got that offer when he was in 10th grade, so it was a little surprising to get it that early. He shut down any other offers he might have, and he had a chance to work out with some Major League teams. We were just very proud of him. It's always been his dream to go to Carolina."

Tyler's recruitment ended immediately.

"I loved hearing from other schools, but I knew at heart (that I was sticking with South Carolina)," Tyler said. "I was talking to probably five or 10 other D1 schools, and I was just waiting on that South Carolina offer for about seven months. After I committed, I still had schools talking to me, but I've always wanted to be a Gamecock."

With his commitment out of the way, Tyler focused on the spring at LMA. He knew some added attention would come with his decision, especially because he hadn't played varsity baseball before he committed.

"It was definitely pressure, but as you play games, it just slowly goes away; you get used to it," he said. "Being in the pressure is awesome. I just kind of embrace it."

What followed was a truly magical spring. The Swampcats first outlasted Hammond to earn a spot in the state championship before taking down Ben Lippen 7-3 to claim their long-awaited title.

"It was a roller coaster two or three months there in the spring," Tyler said. "It was sweet. I think I was in fourth grade when I watched the 2016 team beat Wilson Hall there, so it was kind of something that I've always wanted to do, win a state championship, and especially at Riley Park. It couldn't have gotten any better."


After a strong junior football season with the Swampcats, Tyler made a difficult decision. He was given the option to play at P27, a baseball academy in Columbia. There, he would be able to get a taste for the college lifestyle, as his entire life would be built around baseball and knocking out his schoolwork.

"Me and my family talked about it a lot," Tyler said. "At the end of the day, it was just a better opportunity for me to go play at a school for only a semester, but it was a baseball school, baseball only, and it was just great to have that experience around all those guys, all those coaches. I wouldn't trade it. It was a good semester."

Charlton thought P27 would provide the perfect challenge to help Tyler prepare for college.

"P27 is a different level of baseball than you see in SCISA," Charlton said. "They were playing tournaments in California, Texas, Florida, half of the United States. Half of these kids were 18, 19, college-type kids that he was playing against. It was some really tough competition."

While Tyler loved having the chance to compare himself to other elite talent, something was missing.

"My friends, all my high school buddies in my class," Tyler said of why he wanted to leave P27 after a semester. "All we wanted to do forever is just win a football state championship. That was a big reason (for) me coming back. I just wanted to play one more year of football. You can't play forever, so why not?"


Tyler made the most of his last football season, leading the Swampcats back to the state championship. In his four seasons at LMA, he played for three state titles. All of them were against Hammond, and this was their best shot.

Laurence Manning built a quick 14-0 lead against the SCISA powerhouse, but mistakes let the game slip away 28-21. Months later, Tyler is still haunted by the loss.

"Me and my boys talk about it every single day, how heart-wrenching a game was, how it went down at the end," Tyler said. "It's better than being beat 52-0 (like the year before), so that's the only plus I've got.

"They played a great game. We played an all right game. I knew going into it we were the better team, and sometimes it just doesn't go your way."

After the loss, Tyler's attention turned to his final spring with the Swampcats. But that couldn't go according to plan, either.

Tyler has battled shoulder issues on and off for a couple of years now, but doctors always gave him a clean bill of health. That changed last week, when Tyler got another MRI that showed he'd torn his labrum. When he suited up against Wilson Hall on Friday, he played his final game. They determined that surgery would be his best course of action with his dream at South Carolina quickly approaching.

"I think it's been the same thing for forever, but I got MRI after MRI after MRI. They said they were clear. So, I went to a different doctor, and he told me it was torn," Tyler said. "I kind of always had that feeling, knowing it wasn't a hundred percent and something was wrong with it. At the beginning of football season, whenever I was coming back to Manning, I wasn't really sure what I was gonna be doing the whole year, how long I'd make it. I got a couple cortisone shots and kind of just let it ride for football season and then got another MRI after football, and it was clear. It wasn't until last week that this happened.

"It (stinks), it really does, but I'm thinking one step ahead, and I just want to be healthy and ready to go whenever I step on campus in August or September."


Throughout all of the ups and downs, Tyler's family has been a stabilizing rock.

"They've just always been there for me. They've always wanted what's best for me and me as a ball player, as a person and just want every bit out of me to make me be the best person I can possibly be," he said. "Just having them always in my corner is something huge to me, and they're really proud of me and can't wait to see what I do at the next level."

But Tyler didn't grow up in a traditional household. While Charlton and June are Tyler's parents, they aren't his birth parents. In fact, they're his grandparents.

Kara June had Tyler when she was in high school, so Charlton and June quickly took their grandchild in. They raised him and eventually formally adopted him.

"We had him from Day 1," Charlton said. "We never deviated from who his parents were. He always knew who they were, but we've had him since Day 1. We basically raised him like he was our biological child. We were always the parents. He calls his real parents by their given names, so that tells you how that stands."

That family dynamic wasn't strange to Tyler, though it did lead to some interesting conversations.

"They adopted me, so technically, my mom is like my sister, I guess," Tyler said with a chuckle. "It's pretty weird. It's definitely hard explaining to everybody."

All of the Junes share one passion: South Carolina athletics. Tyler can't wait to see a sea of Junes in the crowd when he finally suits up for the Gamecocks.

"Probably about 30 Junes at Williams Brice Stadium every Saturday in the fall," he said. "So, for me to be able to suit up next year in garnet and black is just going to be something really special for me and my family. I can't wait.

"I think about it every day. God blessed me with this opportunity, and I'm just gonna take it and run with it as long, as far as I can."