In my interview with Dakota he mentioned that his velo increased from 80-82 to 89-90 the past year. What do you think caused his velo to increase so much in just a year's time?
"When he was a sophomore he was around 84 and probably touched 85 every once in a while. Now he's hitting 91 right now, touching 93-94.
"In the off-season, from July on out, he started working hard. He worked hard at his off-season conditioning. I also gave him a long toss program that he worked hard at. He grew a little bit and put on a little bit of weight. I guess you could say he's grown into his body, although you can look at him and see he's not through growing. And he's just now turning 17 (years-old)."
What is amazing is that is a two-seam fastball that he is throwing. Most high velocities are with a four-seam fastball.
"We worked with a four-seam early on but he wasn't able to control it so he went to the two-seam and he's still throwing it 88-90. And he's able to control it. He just knows how to pitch and he listens and takes in what you tell him. That's what makes him so good."
What is special about Dakota?
"I came back (to Sequatchie County HS) when he was a freshman in high school. I've seen a lot of good pitchers during my playing days and coaching career. I played at Lee University, an NAIA program. I also played some Independent ball under Cecil Fielder. I've seen some good pitchers here and there. But with Dakota what you see from him and what you know that he wants you just don't see that in a lot of players."
What were Dakota's thoughts about Mississippi State after he visited there during the fall?
"He called me and said he loved it."
Did how well the MSU pitching staff is doing this season have any affect on his decision to commit to MSU?
"Dakota is with me the first half the day because he's in one of my classes. Today, the first thing, he came up to me and said I think I've decided (who I'm going to commit to). He said I was looking at their (MSU) number 1 (pitcher) (Chris) Stratton. He said he probably came in throwing around 87-88 (miles per hour) and now he's 94-95. He's said that's what I want to at least be or even better. He said they are obviously doing something good in that program. He wanted to find that college that would help him succeed as much as possible, that would help him improve as much as possible."
I know it's still early as far as whether he will wind up going to college or end up going pro out of high school. Has he mentioned anything about that to you? "He could wind up doing either. Education is important to him. But he's got a good head on his shoulders and wants to go wherever baseball takes him. Some high school kids think 'I'm going to get drafted, I'm going to get drafted.' But he doesn't worry about the pros. He hasn't even brought up Major League Baseball to me.
"One thing he said to me when we were in my truck going to our first fall game. I asked him what is the one thing he wants to do before he gets out of high school. He sat there and said I want to throw 95 (miles per hour). I told him he has a lot of work to do but, who knows, he may get to do that. Then he also said I want to play in the SEC. I think that's where he wants to be because he's put a lot of thought into it."
Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing email@example.com.