Arkansas pitcher Kevin Kopps joins elite company after winning the 2021 Dick Howser Trophy on Friday. Some of the game’s most dominant stars have received the award: David Price, Kris Bryant, Stephen Strasburg and Buster Posey to name a few.
“It doesn’t really feel real yet,” said Kopps moments after winning the award. “Those are the guys you kind of watch when you’re younger and look up to and to be on the same list as them is a blessing.”
But Kopps certainly belongs with them. He posted a 12-1 record this season, a 0.90 ERA, with 131 strikeouts and just 11 walks in 89.2 innings pitched. He also won the Stopper of the Year award, given to the country’s best reliever. Both awards are voted on by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association.
The Sugar Land, Texas native now joins Andrew Benintendi (2015) as the only other Arkansas Razorback to win the award and the first relief pitcher to ever receive it.
Kopps was felt like unstoppable force on the mound for the Razorbacks and an option that head coach Dave Van Horn always knew he could count on in any situation.
“His performance this year is something i’ve never really witnessed,” said Van Horn. “It’s so rare to see a pitcher that can close a game, come in the middle of a game, start a game, pitch back to back days.”
Van Horn also said it’s something he may never witness again.
It’s baffling to think that a year ago, after his struggling season following Tommy John surgery, that Kopps was contemplating if he even had a spot on the team.
“It was whether or not Arkansas wanted me back and I was going to come back. Just after the (2020) season, I was just kind of unsure of who I was and if they wanted me back or if they wanted to make room for some younger guys,” Kopps said. “And Coach (Matt) Hobbs thought it was stupid of me to ask and I’m really thankful for that.”
Kopps has now won nearly every major award you can think of and the major leagues is on the horizon.
“He’s going to do whatever he wants and he’ll be really good at it,” said Van Horn. “But I think he’s going to play baseball for as long as he wants as well.”
Kopps said he is staying in Arkansas to train and throw as he prepares for what’s to come in the MLB Draft beginning July 11.