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What Michelangelo was with the brush, Georgia's Charlie Condon is with the bat.

Maybe that's why the Bulldogs' best home run hitter treats every at-bat like a new work of art, an opportunity to create a fresh offensive masterpiece with every swing.

“I look at every single shot as a blank canvas,” Condon said. “It's about knowing that every single shot is what it is – it's its own thing. You can't start looking at statistics, trends and winning streaks because those things are always getting worse, whether they're good or bad.”

Georgia Bulldogs head coach Wes Johnson, who has seen many special talents during his career in the Southeastern Conference, said Condon is the best college hitter he has ever seen.

“His hitting discipline, just his mind. He gets off his A-swing a lot,” Johnson said. “So it was a lot of fun to watch him.”

Considering Johnson was the pitching coach for LSU last year and coached Dylan Crews, the Nationals' No. 2 pick in 2023, that's quite a statement.

“I'm talking about the batter's box, too, right?” Johnson said. “I mean, obviously Dylan (Crews) is a very dynamic player. He's really a top-notch defender. He can run, too. But when you talk about the batter's box, I haven't had anyone better than Charlie Condon.”

A quick look at the numbers backs up Johnson's statement. It's also the reason why Condon was named College Player of the Year this year.

Condon ranks first in Division I with a .433 batting average and 1.009 slugging percentage. He hit 37 home runs, leading the nation to the College World Series. Condon collected 100 hits, scored 84 runs, and posted a .556 on-base percentage, all of which ranked in the top five in the nation. He scored 78 runs, ranking 11th, although that ranking was primarily due to him batting second for the Bulldogs.

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A good head on his shoulders

Johnson said Condon's mental approach to the game and willingness to accept challenges made him great.

“The greats have the ability to expand their horizons and take on challenges,” said Johnson, who spent nearly four years as MLB pitching coach for the Twins. “He has that. Paul Skenes had it, and I think about the guys I had in professional baseball – Carlos Correa, Sonny Gray, Luis Arraez, all those guys. They have the ability to take on bigger challenges.”

Georgia State University freshman outfielder Tre Phelps said the national attention hasn't changed Condon's team-first approach.

“He puts his team first, and that will elevate his success to a level he didn't even know he could reach,” Phelps said. “He's not just having success. It's making him a better person and player.”

Dillon Carter played with Condon for one season after transferring from Texas Tech, and it didn't take long for him to realize what a special teammate he was.

“There aren't many like him and it's good to be surrounded by people like that,” Carter said. “He knows he's good. Everyone around him knows he's good. But if you saw him in public, he'd be like any other guy in town.”

Although Condon's bat draws attention, he's not bad with his glove either. He started at third base, center field, first base, and both outfield corners, giving him defensive versatility that only enhances his overall game.

Georgia hitting coach Will Coggin said working with Condon may be the easiest job he's ever had.

“As my old high school coach said, 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it.'”

Coggin has worked with good hitters before. In addition to current major leaguers and Mississippi State products Brent Rooker and Nathaniel Lowe, his training of former MSU star Jake Mangum stands out. Mangum left Starkville as the SEC's all-time leading hitter and helped the Bulldogs make back-to-back trips to Omaha in 2018 and 2019.

“A lot of the best hitters I've coached know what information they need, and Charlie is one of those guys,” Coggin said. “He knows what information he wants, whether it's a description of the guy's throws, what they're like and how he uses his throws.”

“Most of the time it's about improving his swing on a daily basis, making sure he's maintaining his swing well and hopefully preventing a bad habit from creeping in. Other than that, it's just a lot of approach stuff.”

From extra to star

Condon's story is certainly different from most.

When he was a high school student at the Walker School outside Atlanta in 2021, major league teams weren't hot on his heels. Nor were major college programs available to him, largely due to the Covid pandemic that canceled high school seasons nationwide in 2020 and kept scouts from traveling.

Undaunted, Condon never gave up on his dream of playing in Division I.

When his home state of Georgia offered him a chance as a preferred walk-on, he jumped at the chance. After sitting out his freshman year in 2022 to put on more muscle and weight for his 6-foot-6 frame, Condon surprised everyone with a .386 batting average, 25 home runs and 67 RBIs, earning BA's 2023 Freshman of the Year honors.

When Johnson was hired to replace former coach Scott Stricklin, many wondered if Condon would do what so many college players do and enter the transfer market.

According to Condon, this thought never occurred to him.

“For me, it was about getting more comfortable and not turning my back on the university that had given me a chance out of high school,” Condon said. “Georgia was my only preferred walk-on offer. It was officially my only opportunity to play college baseball… The resources (and) all the time and effort that the staff and my teammates put into developing my career, that was not something I wanted to turn my back on.”

The rest is Bulldogs baseball history.

Despite the pressure to succeed, Condon has maintained his high level of play, which has benefited both him and the Bulldogs, whose season in Athens ended with a loss to NC State in the Super Regionals.

For one last hurrah, Condon hit a home run in his final batting appearance as a Bulldog.

“The external expectations have definitely changed a little bit,” Condon said, “but the way I see it, the expectations I have of myself have always been very high. So that's not changing.”

“I will always set high standards for myself.”

Anthony Dasher covers University of Georgia athletics for UGASports.com

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