October 16, 2013
Rea Sees a Special Group of Newcomers to Lead
It's hard to find a player that made more noise nationally down the stretch than the, literally, larger-than-life first baseman for the Bulldogs in 2012. Wes Rea made a decision out of high school to choose John Cohen and the baseball diamond over the gridiron and playing tackle for Dan Mullen. The decision turned out to be a good one as Rea burst on to the seen as a redshirt freshman and became one of the most feared first-fielders in the SEC last year.
From his late-inning heroics with timely hits to his scoop of the ball out of the dirt to end the game and send MSU further through the College World Series, Rea took Omaha by storm and was good on his word to the fans when he predicted a late-season run in February.
"I got in a little trouble for that one last year," Rea said about his prediction tweet prior to the year. "We'll see, but we'll probably just let our play do the talking on that."
Even though the head man wasn't happy about the bold prediction before the Bulldogs even played a game, the coach sure is ecstatic that he has Rea in his dugout instead of someone else's. His play on the field is more than a big advantage for the Diamond Dawgs, but it might be his leadership that is his biggest asset. It's hard to top last season for Cohen and his 2014 group, but he likes the pieces he has returning in leadership.
"I think it would be hard for them to work even harder than they did a year ago. We do have tremendous leadership on this team with the Brett Pirtle's and the Wes Rea's. Even the guys that didn't play a tremendous amount last year," the head coach said of his upperclassmen. "We have some guys that we feel like are doing a great job leading this club, especially positionally. I think we had more older leadership guys on the mound last year I think it's more of a positional thing this year."
That leadership role that Rea is taking over is a lot easier when there is a lot of young talent to lead. Cohen and his coaching staff reeled in the nation's number two recruiting class this year and that was before the College World Series had even begun with most of those players on board already.
"We've got an awesome group of young guys that came in here. As you saw, they were ranked second in the nation and as far as I can tell they've proven that," the junior said of the incomers. "We've got a bunch of good guys that are getting a hang of it right off the bat. It's kind of different from things that we've seen in the past. I think you can really tell, in my four years here, this is the most athletic group of guys that we've had. Things are starting to click a lot sooner and we'll be able to get a lot done because of that."
Rea knows that he has to give credit to the same people that wanted him to wear maroon and white, his coaches. Pitching Coach Butch Thompson and assistants Nick Mingione and Jake Wells do a lot of the day-by-day recruiting and sometimes don't get the credit they richly deserve.
"That's just a credit to the coaching staff and how hard they work. We're practicing five days a week and the other two days coach (Mingione) and coach Thompson are on the road recruiting. Credit to them for time away from their family, but if that's what it takes that's what it takes. They're willing to do that for us."
Now those coaches are seeing the benefit of their hard work in the form of the second best class in the country. While it hasn't won them any games yet, Rea certainly sees the foundation for a scary good group. The tools that they possess on the field are great, but their willingness to work and what they do when they do work is what is turning the big junior's head.
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