Jeff Smith

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Questions About
Junior College Baseball

Jeff Smith
Head Baseball Coach
Volunteer State Community College
Gallatin, Tennessee

Question: : Volunteer State Community College is an NJCAA Division I affiliated school, many folks that visit the High School Baseball Web assume that the caliber of baseball played at an NJCAA school is not as good as that played at an NCAA DII or III program, or at an NAIA school. How would you respond to that?

Answer: The caliber of play at the NJCAA DI level will vary just as it will at the NCAA DI level. At Volunteer State we focus on recruiting players that will keep us playing at the top of the NJCAA DI.

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

Answer: Yes. It will vary from school to school. The NJCAA maximum is 24 full scholarships.

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

Answer: Yes. If they want to maximize their scholarship money and sign enough quality players.

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

Answer: It could be helpful. To see how a player responds during drill work and if he is willing to make adjustments.

Question: You have coached at an NCAA DI program, an NAIA program and now at one of the nation's elite junior college programs. How would you say the recruiting differs at each of these types of programs?

Answer: I thought it was easier at the DI level. Every kid wants to play at that level, and you're not signing 12 to 14 kids a year like we do at Volunteer State. It was very difficult at the NAIA level to bring in a freshman because of the scholarship amounts and competing with DI's and juco's. So while at the NAIA level I focused on junior college transfers. At Vol State we focus on players that are potential "draft and follow" or players that do not want to sit at a mid-major DI and could possibly develop into and SEC/ACC player.

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

Answer: We start identifying players during their junior year. So it would be helpful if player's started sending out letters at the end of their sophomore year. (10th grade)

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

Answer: Yes. It won't hurt. We look at the stats if they look impressive we contact the player's coach.

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

Answer: To tell you the truth I get so much information that I am not able to read it all.

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

Answer: To a degree. I think that a player should use every resource available to get his name out there. I do believe that kids can do some stuff themselves and avoid the cost that recruiting services charge.

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

Answer: Yes! At Vol State we do review all video tapes received and they are helpful.

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: Both, if possible. Because you are able to see more repetitions, whether it is batting, pitching or fielding.

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 your staff at Volunteer State attend any showcases?

Answer: I feel that it is very important. It tears me up when I go to a showcase and a player is not there because the summer Coach didn't want them to attend because of a game. A lot of showcases will have upwards of 100 coaches and scouts in attendance. Showcases are valuable to the player and his evaluation process.

Question: How important is a player's physical appearance? I do not mean is he 6'-1" tall and weighs 205 pounds. 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: If it is visible then yes it could be a negative first. That might be stereotypical, but it is the truth. Until we are able to develop a relationship with the player and find out if he is a fit for our program. If it is something that is in bad taste then we won't even talk.

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 it is "over" as far as that school is concerned?

Answer: No. We watch how the player handles himself. Will he throw his helmet when he strikes out or does he walk or run off and on the field.

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

Answer: VERY IMPORTANT! It shows that this player wants to get better or is he concerned only with his stats. Is he a team player or not?

Question: Professional baseball seems to have a "love affair" with bigger players. In other words only pitchers over 6' tall .... Derek Jeter sized shortstops, etc. What are your feelings on this when it comes to recruiting players for your program?

Answer: We recruit college players, not pro players. Although we do try to sign players that have that type of ability because they are draft eligible and we want the best players. But if he is 5'-9" and can run and hit and has good hands on the infield we will try to sign that player too.

Question: There has been some discussion in recent months about college baseball possibly returning to using wooden bats. Do you have any thoughts or comments?

Answer: It would be great. It would bring pitching and decision making back into the game. It would also be easier for pro scouts to evaluate prospects if they hit with wood every day.

Question: So many high school players have the attitude that if they do not play college baseball at one of the NCAA DI top 40 programs they have failed. What advice can you offer a high school player regarding the "big school" program?

Answer: We see that at Vol State. We have a lot of players that think they can play here. Everyone can not play at a DI or top 40 program. Players need to find a place that competes and will develop them as a person, as well as a player. If they are able to do that and enjoy college baseball they have done something very few people can do. Play College Athletics.

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

Answer: Go watch a college team practice at the DI level, a top Juco, or a DII school. See if it is something you want to work on and do 12 months a year. Not everyone can play college athletics. It takes a lot of hard work, dedication and discipline.

Coach Jeff Smith
Head Baseball Coach
Volunteer State Community College
Gallatin, Tennessee

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Revised February 09, 2003 .