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Questions About NAIA Baseball Recruiting

Coach Woody Hunt
Head Baseball Coach
Cumberland University
Lebanon, Tennessee

An interview with Coach Woody Hunt of Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tennessee. Cumberland is an NAIA school, and they are usually in the thick of the national title chase each year.

Coach Woody Hunt begins his 20th season as the head coach of the Bulldogs and 23rd season overall. He served three years as an assistant on the Bulldogs staff prior to taking over the head coaching position.

Coach Hunt has amassed an overall record of 753-306 as the head coach. He has moved the Cumberland University baseball program into one of the top five baseball programs in the country.

Under Coach Hunt's leadership, the Bulldogs have won four district championships, two Southeast Regional Championships, four Mid-South Region Championships, and eleven Tennessee Collegiate Athletic Conference Championships. Coach Hunt has also led the Bulldogs to six NAIA World Series (1988, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998 and 1999). In 1999, the Bulldogs had a 47-22 record.


Question: You have coached at Cumberland University, in Tennessee for 22 years. Have you ever been tempted to move to a larger school?

Answer It seems that I have been here all my life. I do not want to coach anywhere else

Question: Cumberland is an NAIA affiliated school, many of the folks that visit the High School Baseball Web assume that the caliber of baseball played at an NAIA school is not as good as that played at an NCAA Division 2 or 3 program. How do respond to that?

Answer NAIA baseball is the most misunderstood level in college baseball. We need D1 players to compete for the National Championship. I get turned off by the statement, he was an "NAIA Player." Our program can compete on any level.

Question: Cumberland is a small school located in Tennessee yet your baseball program has produced many professional players. How are you so successful in recruiting players to Cumberland?

Answer We have a network of former players and many scouts that help me. We also recruit juco players.

Question: Do NAIA baseball programs have the ability to offer athletic scholarship money?

Answer Yes. We have 10 scholarships that we have to use for 40 players.

Question: Do NAIA schools "blend" athletic and academic scholarship monies together to create a package for the good academic athlete?

Answer Yes. We have to package monies to make it work.

Question: How important is it for a high school player to attend a college team's summer camp?

Answer Not important for me.

Question: When should a player write a letter of introduction to a college coach? (i.e. after his 10th grade year, etc.)

Answer Letters are getting too common. I get so many I can't respond to them all. I believe letters should be sent in the 12th level.

Question: Is it better to have the player's high school coach send the first letter? Or does it make any difference?

Answer Makes no difference, but a coach's letter is more appropriate.

Question: Do sending copies of a players high school / summer team statistics help? Are they of value to you - when received with an introductory letter?

Answer Stats do help some, but really I am not a big stat person.

Question: Should a player or high school coach send copies of clippings from local newspapers that relate accomplishments of the player?

Answer Clippings do help some

Questions: Are the "online" internet recruiting services taken seriously by college coaches? Would you recommend them to a high school player and his family?

Answer Any recruiting services are beneficial. However these services need to relay to high school players that college is not for everyone. For example, recruiting services need to tell players what it takes to play for a certain school -- at a certain level.

Question: Should a player send a videotape of himself in baseball situations and games? Do college coaches review unsolicited tapes?

Answer I try to watch video tapes. It is impossible every player.

Question: If a tape is beneficial to you and your staff what suggestions would you make to the player? Such as all game situations? Some individual fielding and batting situations? Pitchers in games only, or is throwing to a catcher good also?

Answer Tapes should be done from the nearest distance possible and from differnet angles. Also footage from games as well as practice or work-outs are good.

Question: With the increasing number of high school talent showcases in recent years how important is it for a player to attend this type of event? Do you and/or the coaching staff at Cumberland attend any showcases?

Answer We attend some showcases. However, there are so many that it is impossible to see them all. Showcases are saturated with low level players and it has become a money maker for the organizers. This has hurt the showcases and many coaches are turned off by them.

Question: How important is a player's physical appearance? I do not mean is he 6'-1" tall and weighs 205 lbs. What I am referring to is tattoos, body piercings, odd hairstyles, manner of dress etc. Are any or all of these items a "negative" when a college coach sees a prospective player?

Answer A player's physical profile is very important. I do not like earrings, odd haircut, etc. This turns me off a great deal

Question: If a player has a bad day when a college coach is in the stands watching him for the first time. Does that mean that it is "over" as far as that school is concerned?

Answer No, most college coaches look for ability, not performance.

Question: How important is a player's "attitude appearance" when in a game or at practice?

Answer Attitude is greatly looked at. Players need to understand that a "bad attitude" reputation will really hurt them.

Question: As the head coach of a smaller college what are the major differences in recruiting when compared to the "major" schools?

Answer One difference is that we have to recruit many players for enrollment. We have a JV and a Varsity team. But in terms of recruiting talented players for our varsity, we recruit the same level of players that the D1 schools do.
Another difference is that we have to recruit juco players, because the freshman that we try to recruit are usually high profile players and are hard to sign.

Question: As the coach of a smaller school do you recruit on a more regional scope than other larger schools?

Answer Because we are a private school we recruit nationwide. We have players from 11 states represented on our team
Question: So many high school players have the attitude that if they do not play college baseball at one of the D1 top 40 programs they have failed. What advice can you offer a high school player regarding the "big school" stigma?

Answer That angers me some, becuase most high school players don't understand our level of play. We are National Contenders most of the time and need high level players to compete. High school players can get a good experience by going to a small school.

Question: What other advice would you give to a high school player that hopes to play baseball in college?

bulletWork hard
bulletAttend workouts that small schools are allowed to have
bulletDon't "big time" it! Be humble in the recruiting process
bulletUnderstand your abilities and what level you can fit into, and what school you can fit into.
bulletUnderstand the cost of education. Everyone can get a high scholarship

You can contact Coach Hunt at:
Cumberland University
One Cumberland Square
Lebanon, Tennessee 37087-3554
(615) 444-2562
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Revised February 09, 2003 .