Instead, Dave Van Horn put the hammer down on what could be one of the best seasons in his 10 as Razorback head coach. He allowed himself to think about the potential of a College World Series run when he met with the media Tuesday afternoon at Baum Stadium.
"There are high expectations in that locker room right now," Van Horn said. "I kinda teased our guys last year trying to get them thinking about what it would be like to make a run to Omaha. I told them, 'We know we are going in 2012. What about this year?'"
The 2012 season is about to start. Fall practice begins Sept. 9. Van Horn expects a roster of nearly 50 players, including one of the most experienced and best pitching staffs in the country.
"We were hoping maybe to get one of these guys at the end, but realistically we've known they were gone for four or five months. They all got big money, too much to pass up."
Nimmo signed with the Mets for $2.2 million. Van Horn was almost relieved he didn't come to school.
Among those drafted who didn't sign were returnee Trent Daniel and signee Conor Costello. The Cincinnati Reds drafted Costello in the 16th round and offered $500,000, but the righthanded pitcher opted for college.
"To be honest, that would have been a lot of pressure on us if he did come," Van Horn said. "It's one thing for a hot shortstop or a pitcher to come in. But an outfielder is different. If things didn't work out for him after a year or two, then there would have been pressure. He needed to take that."
Van Horn said it's been an exceptional summer for both returning players and some newcomers. He raved about the work put in since the end of the spring season by pitchers Ryne Stanek, Barrett Astin, outfielder Jimmy Bosco and infielder Matt Reynolds. He said infielder/outfielder Brian Anderson, one of the drafted players on the way to campus, hit 18 home runs this summer. Joe Serrano, another drafted infielder/outfielder, set a league record for doubles in a tough Arizona circuit while driving in 69 runs.
"Right now, it looks like we have 48 or 49 players on our roster," Van Horn said. "We had a lot of guys do well this summer. We shut Stanek down after 100 innings. He was filthy. Three pitches. The last inning I saw him pitch with Team USA he went seven innings and he was 95 mph. He threw 93 to 96 all summer.
"Reynolds turned the corner this summer. He's never been healthy in his first two years here. He's healthy now and he's swinging the bat well. He's one of the best infielders in the country, too. Astin was outstanding this summer. He is coming back expecting to be a starter. Bosco tore it up this summer."
Stanek started to turn the corner in his last three starts for the Hogs. Van Horn knew it was only a matter of time.
"What happened with him was that after he was drafted so high last summer, they shut him down," Van Horn said. "And when he got here in the fall, he wasn't ready. It took him most of the spring to get back. But he was great this summer."
Van Horn thinks there is top-line pitching in the newcomers, but it will be nice to add them to the mix slowly. There won't be a need to rush any of them like the Hogs had to do last season.
"There are some nice arms in this new bunch," he said. "Some of them are two-way players and we are just going to let them hit. That's the case with Anderson. I'm still surprised the Twins didn't sign him. They offered $200,000 and that just wasn't enough. He had a little bit of a sore arm, so we are just going to play him in the field. But he might pitch in a year."
There are some surprise additions. Some are returning players.
"We thought we'd probably lose Tim Carver or Bo Bigham, but they are coming back," he said. "We also have some others that called and wanted to come. So we have a big roster."
One of those is a former player, junior college transfer Derek Bleeker, now primarily a pitcher. The 6-5 Longmont, Colo., native made a big jump on the radar gun last spring and signed with North Carolina. He was used as a first baseman two years ago at Arkansas. He did get a hit at the College World Series. But because of an academic snafu, Bleeker won't play for the Tar Heels and is headed back to Fayetteville.
There are other promising developments. Van Horn expects more from Sam Bates after a good summer.
"Wait until you see Bates," Van Horn said of the 6-5 outfielder. "He looks like a different person. He's so much more developed. He got much bigger."
So who jumps into the lineup from the newcomer group? Who can be this season's Dominic Ficociello?
"I don't want to put that much pressure on any of them," Van Horn said. "They are all making a big jump in levels. But there are several with that kind of skill. It's a matter of whether or not they have the mentality. Dominic had the mentality. He had a swagger, sometimes too much.
"We just need to get started and let them compete. We will have numbers to have great competition.
"I think this will be a good team. We are going to play probably the best schedule since I've been here. As far as high national rankings, I hope so.
"Realistically, last fall at this time, I knew it was going to be a tough year. The goal was to get to 2012 and I thought we would be good. We have good teams in our league. LSU and Mississippi State are going to be good in our division. Ole Miss will be good, too. It's going to be a really good league. But we have high expectations in our locker room."