Matt Jones is the online sports director for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A double graduate of the University of Arkansas, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, and voter for the Heisman Trophy.
Kopps a finalist for 91st Sullivan Award
Former Arkansas pitcher Kevin Kopps (center) is shown with the Golden Spikes Award during the Razorbacks' football game against Auburn on Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021, in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE — Former Arkansas pitcher Kevin Kopps is one of five finalists for the AAU Sullivan Award, which is presented annually to the best amateur athlete in the U.S.
Other finalists for this year’s award include gymnast Simone Biles, water polo player Maddie Musselman, swimmer Caleb Dressel and middle-distance runner Athing Mu.
Kopps is the only finalist for the award who did not compete in the Tokyo Olympics this year. Dressel won five gold medals in the 50-meter freestyle, 100-meter freestyle, 100-meter butterfly and as a member of the 400-meter freestyle and 400-meter medley teams; Mu won gold in the 800 meters and as part of the 1,600-meter relay team; Musselman was a member of the U.S. gold medalist team; and Biles won bronze on the balance beam.
Kopps won the Golden Spikes Award and Dick Howser Trophy — the top individual awards in college baseball. He also won the Stopper of the Year Award as the game’s best relief pitcher.
In 33 appearances in his final season at Arkansas, Kopps went 12-1 with 11 saves. His ERA (0.90) and WHIP (0.76) were the lowest in college baseball.
Kopps struck out 131 and walked 18 in 89 2/3 innings. Opponents hit .162 against him.
The Razorbacks were 28-5 in games during which Kopps pitched. Arkansas finished the season with a 50-13 record and won SEC regular-season and tournament championships.
Kopps was selected by the San Diego Padres in the third round of the MLB Draft and advanced to the organization’s Triple-A affiliate in El Paso, Texas, by the end of the season.
The Sullivan Award will be presented for the 91st time on Friday in Orlando, Fla. Notable past winners of the award include football players Peyton Manning, Tim Tebow and Ezekiel Elliott; basketball player Bill Walton; track stars Carl Lewis, Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Michael Johnson; swimmer Michael Phelps; and golfer Bobby Jones, who won the first award in 1930.
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