Kent State University and Head Coach Paul Haynes added the first two commitments to the class of 2014 on Monday, according to football recruiting sites.
Stefano Millin, a 6-foot-4, 250-pound offensive lineman from Perry was the first (Scout.com). Later in the day, Rivals.com listed Troy High School all-purpose running back Miles Hibbler as a verbal commitment as well.To read more or comment...
Those worried about the future of the Kent State baseball program following the departure of coach Scott Stricklin for the University of Georgia may have breathed easier Thursday.
Mike Birkbeck, KSU’s associate head coach and pitching coach, declined an offer to join Stricklin at the Southeastern Conference school, Kent State announced.
Birkbeck had been a candidate to take over for Stricklin, but elected to remain in his current role. A former major leaguer in the second year of a six-year contract, Birkbeck will begin his 18th season as KSU pitching coach in the fall.
“I am thrilled to be continuing on in my position as associate head coach/pitching coach here at Kent State University,” Birkbeck said in a statement, “and I am looking forward to working with the new head coach as we continue to move our baseball program to even greater heights. Kent State University is a very special place to me and with the talented core group of returning players and an exceptional group of student-athletes in our incoming freshman class, I am very excited about the future of this program.”
Kent State reached its first College World Series in 2012. During Birkbeck’s tenure, the Golden Flashes have claimed seven Mid-American Conference regular season titles, eight MAC Tournament championships and made eight NCAA appearances.
“Retaining Mike Birkbeck was a priority,” Kent State director of athletics Joel Nielsen said in a statement. “He’s known in college baseball as one of the best pitching coaches in the country, and someone who both attracts and retains high performing student-athletes. Mike has played a significant role in the baseball program’s success, both on and off the field, and I know our past, current and future Golden Flashes will applaud Mike’s decision.”
Forty players coached by Birkbeck at KSU have been drafted or signed into professional baseball. That list includes Andrew Chafin, a first-round pick in 2011, and Tyler Skulina and Taylor Williams, taken in the fourth round earlier this month.
Birkbeck’s son John will be a junior pitcher for KSU in 2013-14.
In November, 2012, Birkbeck was honored as by Baseball America as the American Baseball Coaches Association Assistant Coach of the Year. A 1985 graduate of the University of Akron, Birkbeck is a member of the Orrville Sports Hall of Fame, UA Sports Hall of Fame, Wayne County Sports Hall of Fame, Greater Akron Baseball Hall of Fame, Summit County Sports Hall of Fame, the Richmond Braves 10th Anniversary All-Diamond Team and Richmond’s All-Century Team.
Kent State's Taylor Williams, a junior right-hander, was selected No. 122 overall by the Milwaukee Brewers. Here’s his MLB.com bio:
"Williams began his college career at Washington State, but played sparingly as a freshman in 2011 before transferring to Mount Hood Community College in Oregon. He transferred to Kent State this year and has become the Golden Flashes' top starter. Williams, a right-hander, grabbed attention in February when he struck out Kris Bryant three times in a Kent State victory. He mixes his low-90s fastball effectively with a slider and changeup. Williams' delivery has some effort to it, though he is athletic enough to largely compensate for it. Still, his delivery and short stature (he's listed at 5-foot-11) will likely make him a reliever as a professional."To read more or comment...
Kent State pitcher Tyler Skulina (Walsh Jesuit) was selected in the fourth round of the MLB Draft.
Skulina, a junior, was selected No.108 by the Chicago Cubs. Here’s what MLB.com had to say about the 6-foot-5 right-hander:To read more or comment...
Kent State and the University Georgia made the signing of Scott Stricklin as Bulldogs head coach official Monday night.
In nine seasons as KSU’s head coach, Stricklin led the Golden Flashes to five Mid-American Conference regular season and five tournament championships, including one College World Series appearance that included a win over No. 1 seeded Florida, in 2012.
“My family and I are excited to be Georgia Bulldogs,” Stricklin said in a press release from Georgia. “It’s been a dream to coach in the Southeastern Conference, and I look forward to moving my family to Athens… I want to thank current Kent State athletic director Joel Nielsen and former athletic director Laing Kennedy for the confidence and support they showed for the Kent State baseball program the last nine years.”
Associate Head Coach Mike Birkbeck has been named interim head coach, per a release from Kent State. Birkbeck has been with the Golden Flashes for 17 seasons acting primarily as the architect behind KSU’s strong pitching staffs year after year. Birkbeck says that he has interest in the head coaching position but is keeping his options open at this time, including a possible reunion with Stricklin at Georgia.
“I’m interested in several scenarios that are in play,” Birkbeck told the Beacon Journal Monday night. “Scott has expressed interest in me, yes.”To read more or comment...
Here is a link to another Atlanta Journal Constitution story on Georgia hiring Kent State coach Scott Stricklin:
According to those in the baseball know, Georgia hit a home run with its impending hire of Kent State’s Scott Stricklin.To read more or comment...
An official announcement is expected Monday in Athens, Ga.To read more or comment...