More Cliff's Notes

Some of Ole Miss' most productive recruiting areas in baseball recently have been right where Cliff Godwin is most familiar – south Louisiana and central Florida.

The newest member of Coach Mike Bianco's staff is eager to help recruit those areas and beyond for Ole Miss.

"Those areas are important, but the entire Southeast is so important for us," said Godwin, an assistant the past three seasons at UCF and at LSU the two years prior to that. "Louisiana is going to be on our radar, but everywhere in the Southeast will be."

But, as many fans always like to hear from a coach, he understands where it all begins and perhaps ends.

"You obviously have to take care of the state of Mississippi first. That's the home state," he said. "But outside that, Louisiana is a big part, Florida is a big part, all the Southeastern states. Then when we have a specific need, like a left-handed pitcher that we have to have, we'll go where we need to find him, wherever that is. That's how you do it."

Godwin, also at Ole Miss as the team's hitting coach, said he's familiar with a number of the current Rebels. And that's another positive for the transition – both for himself and for the players.


Godwin says recruiting is about building relationships
Ole Miss Athletics Media Relations
"I definitely know more kids here on this roster than any place I've been for my first year," he said. "Louisiana kids. Florida kids. (Junior) Tanner Mathis has been texting me. (Freshman) Auston Bousfield (from Orlando) just stopped by the office. We recruited him at UCF. It's great to already have a prior relationship. They already know who I am, and they know what I'm about, so to speak."

He answered in the affirmative for already knowing the following Rebels: sophomore Will Allen, sophomore Austin Anderson, freshman Casey Mulholland, freshman Sikes Orvis. There are others, but you get the picture.

But it doesn't stop there. Godwin also wants to get to know the coaches throughout Mississippi and continue to make Ole Miss the choice for the best players from those programs.

"It's going to take me some time to get the whole state mapped out, but (recruiting coordinator) Carl (Lafferty) does a good job (in Mississippi). And we'll continue to have a great relationship with all the high school coaches in the state of Mississippi," Godwin said. "That's got to be your No. 1 goal, so when those guys have a guy, they're calling us first instead of some of the other schools in the state. You can't get everyone of them to do that. But if you can get 90 percent of them to do that, then you've got one step in front of the other programs. And that's what we've got to try to do."

Godwin said he will work on that at length, and it is important.

"You've got to reach out to (the Mississippi coaches)," he said. "E-mail, cell phone, whatever it takes to get in touch with them and let them know we're going to have a relationship with them. In this day and age, that sometimes gets lost in our business a little bit. That's where you can have an edge, if they believe you are a good person and you are good coaches, they'll help you out. If they think you're using them to get a good player and then you don't talk to them for three years, then they're not going to call you first.

"Relationships in recruiting, that's it. That's what it's all about. I still have guys in Louisiana who called me even though I was at Central Florida, and they'd say ‘Hey, I've got a guy.' He didn't have to do that. He could have called somebody else, but he called me since we had that relationship."

Godwin, who will coach third base for the Rebels, has been in some locales where professional sports get top billing. He likes the fact that in Mississippi, it's college sports, and baseball in particular, that are the headliners.

"It's a culture," Godwin said. "There are not many places in the country where there are 8,000 people in the stands. They care about Ole Miss, and they care about Ole Miss baseball. Everything is so driven here by college athletics. In Florida, they might be going to a Rays game or a Marlins game. In Mississippi, an Ole Miss game is that experience, that family experience."

Godwin loves the passion of it. Oxford is a place he already feels, and he already knows, is special for baseball.


Godwin is already familiar with several Rebel players
Bruce Newman
"It's why I'm here," he said of that intensity of the fans and the way they follow the sport of baseball. "When Coach (Mike) Bianco walked me out on that field and showed me around, I was over there near the third base coaching box. I remember the last Saturday I was here. It was 2008 and Eli Manning threw out the first pitch. There were 10,000 people here. This place was going crazy. That's what I want to see again."

Godwin likes what he sees of the 2012 Rebel ballclub's potential and doesn't mind laying his expectations out there for all to know. The Rebels' head coach of the past 11 seasons has also had those same lofty goals.

"I've got really high expectations for the team next year with the guys we've got coming in and the ones here," Godwin said. "There's no reason we can't get to Omaha next year. I hope Coach Bianco doesn't get mad at me saying that, but that's the reality of it.

"The biggest thing right now is recruiting, and once classes get started to get the guys ready for fall baseball. Those first few weeks (of the fall semester), we'll get them in shape and get them ready for fall practice, hitting and pitching wise. I'm fired up and ready to get things going."


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