Stump's Goal is to Improve Physically

While high school players try to decide between college or pro baseball, there are multiple factors that play through their mind. For Lakeland Christian High School left-hander Corey Stump, his reason might be different than most players in his position.

Stump knows the best of his career is still to come. However, he needs to add muscle for that to happen. The 6-5, 205-pound pitcher describes himself as "tall, lanky and skinny," so having at least three years in a college workout program and experience pitching under Florida head coach Kevin O'Sullivan would help his draft stock more than just signing out of high school.

With some players, it comes down to money a pro team offers. For Stump, it's about the opportunity to add weight and improve his physical stature through college baseball.

"That's definitely something I think about all the time," Stump said. "When you're at Florida, they care about you and what you to get better. You're not off by yourself. You're always with the team and working out, being with people who are pushing you. If you're by yourself, you might slack a little bit. But when you're on a college team, the coaches are there watching you."

The MLB draft is always the final hurdle college teams must cross to get a player to campus. Some players hold out for more money, while others know from the start they want to go to school. Stump wants to be on campus, and that started when he was little, growing up cheering for the Gators.

"My mind is that I want to be a Gator," Stump said. "That's not going to be changing unless there's something crazy. Professional baseball will always be in the back of mind, because it's everyone's dream. I've got to think realistically and this is something I've always wanted to have. You can't take away from that college life. They're some of the best days of your life. If you go pro at a young age, you can never have those years back in your life."

Stump's dream to play for Florida began to turn into reality years ago. He remembers cheering for the Gators as "a little guy." However, there are plenty of kids who grow up cheering for the Gators who don't have an opportunity to play for them.

His dream became reality in September 2009 when he made a visit to the Florida campus for the football team's game against Vanderbilt. He was offered a scholarship that weekend and wanted to commit. It took everything he had to wait.

There was no doubt Stump wanted to play for the Gators, but he promised USF, UCF and Clemson that he would visit. He left Gainesville that weekend making sure the Florida staff knew that he wasn't turning them down. Stump just needed some time to think about the decision.

"I realized it was the only place I would want to go," Stump said. "Once Florida jumped in, that's something you've got to take advantage of."

The appeal of Florida went much deeper than just the school he rooted for. The Gators have improved over each of the last three seasons, punching their ticket to Omaha last season for the first time since 2005.

The Gators head into the 2011 season expected to be ranked in the top three of every preseason poll, and the top-level talent continues to roll into Gainesville.

"It's a huge benefit," Stump said. "It's not only the fact that everyone is good, but they're also pushing you to get better. They're all at Florida with a purpose. Sully is a fun guy and everyone is awesome and fun, but once you get down to it, it's strictly business. It's all about winning a national championship."

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