Obviously, I want to know how you wound up at Mississippi State as an assistant coach. However, you mentioned to me that you have actually played at Dudy Noble Field as an opposing player when you played for Kentucky. And you played right field, so you were out there with the outfield fans. Describe what that experience was like?
"Fortunately, it was 2006 and we had Coach Cohen as our head coach and he knew this place very well. He briefed us and emphasized to us how important it was to stay focused and not let the fans become a distraction. But I don't think you can ever prepare for Dudy Noble Field because it is too overpowering and the fans are so passionate. And when we came here it was on Super Bulldog Weekend, so we were able to see the big crowds.
"In right field they were letting me have it pretty good. I usually played infield so I wasn't accustomed to getting wore out by the guys behind the outfield wall. But I really enjoyed it. I think I enjoyed it because I had never made great plays defensively and somehow made two that weekend. At the end of all of the bashing and teasing at me they then brought me food. There was bar-b-que at the end and they met me at the bus and thanked me and I thanked them. I will never forget that weekend. And we lost two out of three! Usually, when you lose you try to forget those weekends but at a place like this I guess it is too hard to forget."
You hit .369 your senior year while playing under John Cohen at Kentucky. Hitting-wise, what did you learn from Coach Cohen that you use as a coach today?
"I think one of the biggest things was the passion to teach hitting. As a young player what you are most worried about is not tripping over your feet in practice. I hadn't developed the other side of the game. I loved hitting and studying my swing but Coach Cohen really instilled in me the passion to teach hitting. And the way he taught us was phase by phase by phase. He was so passionate and energetic about it. That really got me addicted to knowing the stroke, not just mine, but also watching my teammates swings and understanding what adjustments that they may needed to make."
After your playing career at Kentucky you were a student assistant coach at Kentucky.
"After your playing career and you played at the university you can be a student assistant coach there as long as you haven't graduated yet. As a student assistant you can coached the players. You are right in the middle of it teaching. Coach Cohen gave me full range. He included me in things. I learned a ton during that year."
You left Kentucky after that year, then wound up back there a couple of years later under their new coach Gary Henderson, who was an assistant coach at Kentucky when you played there.
"I called Coach Henderson and told him I wanted to get back into college ball where it is a privilege to be on the team. He told me to come on down and get enrolled in summer school. He said he would get some academic money for me and include me in the baseball program. At that time I met Brian Green who would wind up being my boss when I went to New Mexico State. We bonded and built a really good relationship.
"During that time at Kentucky I was a graduate assistant manager. I couldn't teach but I was with the team every day helping out."
After Kentucky, you were hired by Coach Green as an assistant coach at New Mexico State? What were some things you learned from him?
"The biggest thing that I learned from him is that each kid is different. And also that you have to have trust with each kid. Coach Green taught me so much about trust and relationships. Like the other coaches, he taught me the mechanical side of it. The ones who are the best in the business are the ones who can communicate it to players."
From New Mexico State you wound up at Mississippi State. How did that happened?
"John (Cohen) actually reached out to me. I was recruiting and got a text from Coach Cohen where he asked if I had a couple of minutes to talk. I told him yes sir! We reached out and had a great conversation. He asked me if I had interest and I told him absolutely. Then it progressed from there and it seemed like a good fit."
In addition to being the Mississippi State camp coordinator, you are also one of the hitting coaches, along with assistant coach Will Coggin and Coach Cohen. Talk about that.
"Will and I have talked about hitting. We talk on the phone every day. Our philosophies are similar since we have both learned from Coach Cohen. I am excited to get going. Obviously, camp is taking precedent right now. But once camp is over I am excited to learn more about how the program works and what Will and Coach Cohen are doing and jump right in with them."
Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network.