T.J. McCants and His Brother, Jordan: A Different Kind of Sibling Rivalry
Ole Miss’ T.J. McCants and his Mississippi State-commit brother Jordan bring a talented and healthy sibling rivalry to the state of Mississippi.
Every so often, those cars can be seen on the Mississippi highways — those cars with the license plates on the front announcing the driver is from a “House Divided.” One member of the household is a Mississippi State fan, while the other is a fan of Ole Miss.
Those couples have nothing on Felicia and Torianno McCants.
Beginning next year, their house in Cantonment, Fla., will be uniquely divided. The couple will have one son playing baseball at Ole Miss, while another will be a Mississippi State Bulldog. While T.J. McCants will be in his second season with the Rebels, his little brother Jordan will be a freshman in Starkville.
As divided as the house could be, the couple will keep it as unified as possible.
“(The first time our parents watch us play against one another) I think there will be a couple of 50-percent shirts there,” T.J. said.
“One side will be State with Jordan’s name on it and the other will be Ole Miss with my name on it. They are very supportive, and they won’t mind who wins.”
T.J. McCants on his parents
Jordan agrees about his parents’ attire, and he added another prediction.
“It won’t matter if we play at Dudy-Noble or Swayze, they will be sitting smack dab in the center of the stands. They won’t play favorites and you will hear them cheering.”
Jordan McCants on his parents’ support
No matter where he and his wife sit, the McCants’ patriarch already knows what to expect.
“It will be very exciting, probably the best ball we will see,” Torianno said. “When they play against each other in any sport they really are competitive and there will be lots of trash talking.”
Jordan doesn’t think it will be too odd to see his brother in blue while he is in maroon, but he knows the atmosphere will be a little different than their backyard.
“We grew up in different uniforms back when we were playing just for fun,” Jordan said. “But the crowd will be bigger with lots of fans and publicity, but then it will be going back to playing for fun and seeing who wants to win.”
Although Jordan will be going to Starkville, he did have the option of being a Rebel, but T.J. does not mind his brother’s decision.
“I am pretty sure he got an offer from here, but he had to do his own thing and I am proud of him. I am not a big fan of the school though, but he is my little brother so I can’t be mad.”
T.J. McCants on his younger brother Jordan playing for State
Jordan indeed did get an offer from Ole Miss.
“Yes, I did, I got an offer after we played Tate (High School) my sophomore year when we played against (current Rebel) Trey (LaFleur),” Jordan said. “I definitely considered it and I was thankful and blessed for the offer. But Mississippi State was the best place for me.”
The parents instilled in their sons a sense of priorities, and both took that to heart when making their decisions on where to go to school.
“In our house, the plan was to be a student-athlete and get to college and play ball, but academics always came first,” Jordan said. “We were both allowed to make our own decisions and choose our own path.”
Currently, Jordan’s Pensacola Catholic High team is 2-0 and he is hitting an even .500 with four singles. Or as he puts it, “no extra base hits yet.”
Congrats to Jordan McCants @JordanMcCants4 on being named one of the top 80 high school junior players in the country by Major League Baseball! Here is Harold Reynolds from @MLBNetwork with the details. @PnjBrian @EWall14 @WEARDanShugart pic.twitter.com/yOpZ1nWqoo
— Catholic Baseball (@SaderBaseball) February 4, 2020
Like his brother, T.J. is also enjoying his season thus far. The Rebels are the top-ranked team in the country, and they are riding the wave of a 20-game winning streak as they head into this weekend’s series with Central Florida at Swayze Field.
But the ranking and the streak are not on the Rebels’ minds according to T.J.
“We haven’t really thought about the rankings or the streak. We just look at the game in front of us and the rankings and streak will handle itself.“
T.J. McCants on the No. 1 Rebels
T.J. has handled himself well this season. After second baseman Peyton Chatagnier went down with a hamstring injury, T.J. got the start in the next game although he was not sure his name would be on the lineup card.
“I didn’t know for sure (if I was going to start), it is not my decision,” T.J. said. “I just stay ready and prepared if my name is called.”
He was indeed ready.
In the 12-1 win over Arkansas State, T.J. went 2-for-5 and doubled for his first career collegiate hit.
B5 | First career hit for @mccants_tj is a big one! The freshman doubles to right to put two RISP with one down. pic.twitter.com/NwXLjGQfQ1
— Ole Miss Baseball (@OleMissBSB) February 24, 2021
Ripping that double into right field is something he will never forget.
“It was kind of unreal. When it left the bat, I kind of left my body. When I rounded first, I could hear my teammates getting excited. It was kind of surreal and I am happy I got it.”
T.J. McCants on his first hit as a Rebel
It might have been surreal to T.J., but for his mom, not so much while watching the game on television.
“My wife (was more nervous than T.J. or me),” Torianno said. “She just wants her baby to do well. I think dads want their kids to go out and perform, but for mom, that is her baby out there.”
T.J was also prepared in the field as he had two putouts and an assist. But the highlight came when he was the turn man in a double play started by Tim Elko and completed by Cael Baker. It happened so fast and was so familiar T.J. did not even have time to think about it.
“In the game, you just see it happen and we do it every day in practice,” he said. “It really is just muscle memory.”
Now the McCants brothers, and their parents, are ready to make some new kinds of memories starting next spring as both T.J. and Jordan will be playing college baseball in the Southeastern Conference.
“No matter what, we are going to love and support them. We are just happy they made good choices and are going to good baseball schools.”
Torianno McCants on his sons playing in the SEC
And both schools are lucky to have a McCants enrolled and on their baseball teams from the most unified divided house that can be found.
(Feature image credit: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss)
Steve Barnes joins The Rebel Walk staff as a senior writer and brings a trifecta of journalistic experience. As a writer, he has covered college sports for Rivals.com, Football.com and SaturdayDownSouth.com as well as served as a beat writer for various traditional newspapers.
He has been a broadcaster for arena football and several national tournament events for the National Junior College Athletic Association as well as hosting various shows on radio.
A former sports information director at Albany (Ga.) State University and an assistant at Troy and West Florida, he has helped host many NCAA conference, regional and national events, including serving five years on the media committee of the NCAA Division II World Series.
Barnes, a native of Pensacola, Fla., attended Ole Miss in 1983-84, where his first journalism teacher was David Kellum. The duo has come a long way since that time.
He will bring a proven journalistic track record, along with a knack for finding the out-of-the-ordinary story angles to The Rebel Walk.
Barnes continues to reside in Pensacola a mere ten minutes from the beach because he does have taste and a brain.