Diamond Nutt

Jeff Nutt wasn't originally planning to be at Arkansas, but the fact that he ended up here has been a plus for the Razorbacks, who will now begin a three-game series with Florida with a Saturday afternoon twinbill after Friday's game was rained out.

FAYETTEVILLE - When Jeff Nutt left high school in Wylie, Texas, which is a long fly ball to the warning track from Dallas, little did he know he'd need a Rand-McNally road map as a graduation present.

He was recruited by nearby TCU in Fort Worth, Texas, and as far-away as Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas.

Since then, he's gone from Navarro College in Corsicana, Texas, and now here in Northwest Arkansas.

Nutt, a 6-foot, 205-pound junior college transfer catcher/designated hitter, originally thought he'd be going to Tuscaloosa, Ala.

That all changed more than two years ago.

"(Arkansas hitting) Coach (Todd) Butler recruited me, he recruited me while he was at Alabama, and then he ended up coming over here to coach and he called me and said, 'Hey, how would like to come to Arkansas?' I said, 'Great,' you know.'"

That might be helpful when Arkansas meets Florida at 7:05 p.m. today in Baum Stadium in the first of a three-game Southeastern Conference series.

That makes Razorbacks skipper Dave Van Horn happy to have Jeff Nutt on board.

"He's done a good job," Van Horn said. "He's a good hitter. He's hitting very well in conference play. I couldn't ask for much more than what he's doing right now.

"I think he's done a great job so far."

Nutt, in his limited but increasing playing time, is hitting .293 with 7 doubles, 3 home runs and 26 RBIs.

His buddies from Navarro -- pitcher Jess Todd and outfielder Sean Jones -- aren't surprised.

Just ask Jones, who's mapped a lot of miles from Houston, to Huntsville, Texas, at Sam Houston State, to Corsicana, Texas to here.

"Nutt has always been a consistent hitter," Jones said. "When I first met him and first saw his swing I knew he was a good hitter and every year he comes out and does his job as far as hitting the ball.

"He's definitely a good hitter.

"He does the job behind the plate. He's got a good arm and stuff. He's all-around a good player."

So, why did Nutt wind up here?

"I knew (Arkansas coach Dave) Van Horn. My dad (Kelly) umpired coach Van Horn in the Big 12 when (Van Horn) was at Nebraska. So, he told me coach Van Horn was a great coach, good guy.

"I came up here for my visit and fell in love with the place. The facilities are top notch in the nation. They told me about the fans. It's definitely lived up to what I thought it would be. It ended up ... I wanted to play in the SEC, I liked the coaches and I knew we were going to have a good team and have a chance to win the College World Series.

"It was great. We all came here, Actually there was a fourth, but he signed with the Texas Rangers (third baseman Chris Davis). That's what we talked about last year at Navarro, we all wanted to get somewhere and all go together if we can. We wanted to keep playing with each other, so when it worked out where we could come to Arkansas.

"It was a great deal."


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