Chad Holbrook will not get to coach the players he recruited to South Carolina for the Class of 2017, but he will be rooting for them throughout their careers at USC.
The Gamecocks had eight signees drafted in the MLB draft this week and the majority of those are expected to come to school.
Catcher Luis Campusano, who was drafted early in the second round, is the only recruit out of high school expected to begin his pro career immediately.
Noah Campbell, Corey Stone, Shane Roberts, Kyle Jacobsen, Logan Chapman and Ian Jenkins are highly rated players who were drafted but are expected to attend USC.
“I’ve spoken with a number of signees, as well as our other coaches have. I hope they all come to the University of South Carolina to play baseball. Our staff and coaches spent a lot of time and a lot of effort recruiting them. It’s a really, really neat, solid class,” Holbrook said. “I have no doubt they’ll have great careers at South Carolina, both individually and as a team. I know they’re anxious to start their college careers, and I’m anxious to watch them grow and develop from afar and cheer them on.”
In addition to the signees, six players off last year’s South Carolina team were drafted, including Clarke Schmidt, Wil Crowe, Tyler Johnson, Alex Destino, Josh Reagan and John Parke.
Holbrook followed the draft with pride as the names kept coming off the board.
“I’ve communicated with all of our guys, and it’s been really neat,” he said. “A lot of work went into those guys being drafted.”
Schmidt was the highest USC player to be taken, going in the first round, No. 16 overall, to the New York Yankees. Schmidt’s mid-first-round selection was a bit of a surprise after recently undergoing Tommy John surgery.
“I obviously can’t be happier for Clarke. He probably wondered if he would be drafted at all several months ago, and to see him get drafted in the first round by such an incredible organization, it’s just a testament to the type of kid he is, the character he has, the worth ethic he has,” Holbrook said. “He’s a pure testament of doing the right thing, having great work ethic, having character and integrity, it means a lot. I couldn’t be any happier for him.”
Holbrook plans to continue to follow the careers of all of his former players.
In addition to Schmidt being a first-round pick, Crowe was selected in the second round and Johnson was taken in the fifth.
It marked the first time since 2008 that South Carolina has had three players drafted in the first five rounds.
“Just because I may work somewhere else or coach somewhere else or they’re playing for another team or they’re going into pro ball, it doesn’t mean I stop being their coach or stop having a coach relationship with them,” Holbrook said. “The player-coach relationship is something that’s really neat, and we all hold it dearly. It’s certainly something that will be with me for the rest of my life.”
Johnson said prior to the draft that he owed everything to Holbrook for giving him a chance to play college baseball at USC, while other players, including Destino, took to Twitter to post a thank you message to Holbrook.
The head coach of the Gamecocks for five seasons said it was rewarding to hear from several of his former players.
“It’s emotional because you spend a lot of time as a coach recruiting kids, getting to know them, trying to help them, trying to set a positive example both on the field and off the field. It certainly means a lot that you had an impact on some kids that have great character and represented the university the right way,” Holbrook said. “That’s why we coach. That’s why everybody coaches. Those kids will always have a special place in my heart. It was certainly very emotional reading some of their thoughts. I’ve told them all that I’ll be in their corner forever, and if they ever need my assistance, I’ll be in their corner until the day I die. I’ll follow their careers and be their biggest fan.”