Helton Interview

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College First ?
Or Straight To The Pros ?

Todd Helton
Colorado Rockies

1995 College Baseball "Player of the Year"
1998 National League "Rookie of the Year" / Runner Up
2000 & 2001 National League All-Star team
2000 Associated Press "Professional Baseball Player of the Year"
2001 "Gold Glove" Award


Question: You were heavily recruited to play both baseball and football your senior year at Knoxville Central High School. You were a second round draft pick (first pick that year by that team) but eventually signed with the University of Tennessee, where you played both football and baseball. What other schools did you consider?

Answer: North Carolina was my next choice .... along with Alabama and Kentucky

Question: You played both quarterback on the football team (eventually becoming the starter) and baseball. Do you feel the demands of both sports make this an impossible or extremely difficult task? Especially at a Division 1 power like Tennessee.

Answer: No -- You just have to manage your time wisely

Question: Several current college athletes are trying to play both college football and minor league baseball. Do you have any opinions on this? Are they really doing justice to either sport?

Answer: In hindsight -- If you have a favorite sport go after it 100%

Question: Did you ever give an consideration to playing minor league baseball in the summer and college football in the fall?

Answer: No

Question: You were an early round draft pick, in the professional draft, after your senior year in high school. What factors did you and your family consider when making the decision to go to Tennessee or to play professional baseball.

Answer: Family #1 -- Wanted me to go to college # 2 -- I did not want to have any regrets about not playing college football

Question: Your high school football coach (Coach Helton) and baseball coach (Coach Bales) are two of the best in the area. Did they help you in making your decision?

Answer: They did help

Question: What pressure (if any) did your high school friends give you while you were making your decision?

Answer: They looked at the dollar $$ amount -- Not the big picture

Question: Looking back now do you feel that you were physically or emotionally ready for the grind of playing professional minor league baseball -- when you came out of high school?

Answer: Not really -- I grew up a lot in college -- both physically and mentally

Question: What were some of the biggest differences that you experienced between playing high school and college baseball?

Answer: Speed of the game -- The middle infielders have more range

Question: What were the differences between playing college baseball and in the minor leagues?

Answer: I found the same differences the same as between high school and college -- plus the increased abilities of the pitchers

Question: Do you feel the time from high school to the major leagues would have been shorter, longer or about the same if you had gone from high school to the minor leagues. Instead of from high school to college and then through the pro ranks to the major leagues?

Answer: Probably shorter if I had signed out of high school --- But I do not think that I would have gone as far

Question: You played both first base and pitched (closer) in college. How important was having the opportunity to do both?

Answer: I had a lot of fun pitching & it made me competitive!

Question: Many high school athletes today are being pressured to play only one sport. We all know of high school coaches that have "off season" football weight training and other programs that are mandatory. Many times these programs interfere with summer baseball programs and schedules. What advice would you give to the high school athlete that is caught in this type of situation?

Answer: They will still let you play both -- If you are good enough. If not stick to one -- your favorite.

Question: You have been on state championship teams (high school), and Southeastern Conference championship team (college) played in the College World Series, been voted "College Player of the Year", were National League "Rookie of the Year / Runner Up" What has been your biggest baseball thrill to date?

Answer: Making it to the College World Series and going undefeated and winning the state championship in high school.

Question: How do these experiences compare to your opportunity to be the starting quarterback at the University of Tennessee?

Answer: I enjoy baseball twice as much!

Question: What advice would you give a high school player and his family that is fortunate enough to be a highly drafted and/or play college baseball?

Answer: Make sure that you still have fun and get an education.

Question: What advice would you give a high school player when dealing with the college baseball recruiting process?

Answer: Go with your heart! Do what feels right to you -- not what others say is right.

Question: What advice would you give a high school baseball player when dealing with pro scouts?

Answer: Don't worry about them at your game. Most of them are ex-players that didn't make it -- So just play hard!

Question: And finally the BIG question. If you had it all to do over again would you do the same thing (play at Tennessee) or would you have gone straight into professional baseball?

I realize that each player's personal, academic and financial situation would make their decision unique to them.

Answer: I would never second guess myself. I made the right decision for me.

For more information about Todd go to:
Jeff Wachter's Site

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Revised February 09, 2003 .