Utah baseball returns a host of talent and welcomes a wide array of newcomers for Gary Henderson's first season as head coach in 2022. That group includes one of the best recruiting classes in the program's history, as Collegiate Baseball ranked Utah's 2019 signees No. 18 in the nation and third-best in the Pac-12.
Catcher Jayden Kiernan earned honorable mention All-Pac-12 in 2020. He had the second-best batting average on the team of .325 with six double and 17 RBI. Shortstop Matt Richardson led the Utes with a .360 batting average and was third with 28 RBI in 2021, also logging 10 doubles and two home runs.
Sophomore Kai Roberts started at third base and in the outfield in 2021. He hit .291 for the fourth-best batting average on the team, led the way with 15 doubles, and was second on the team with 13 stolen bases. Roberts also hit a pair long balls and was fourth with 26 RBI. Brock Rudy made 32 starts between catcher and DH last season, driving in 12 runs with two homers. Infielder TJ Clarkson stated 27 games in 2021 with two long balls and 11 driven in.
Junior David Watson tied for the team high with 13 starts last season, getting a pair of wins in 10 decisions with a 6.12 ERA. He was second on the team with 60.1 innings pitched and had 38 strikeouts.
Three other juniors return after making major contributions in relief last season. Zac McCleve made 15 appearances and recorded a 3.45 ERA with 18 strikeouts in 15.2 innings. Matthew Sox quickly became one of the most trusted arms out of the bullpen his first season with the Utes, going 5-2 with one save. He recorded 42 strikeouts with just 17 walks and had a 5.02 ERA in 37.2 innings.
That trio is rounded out by Dusty Schramm, who started eight games as a freshman in 2019, has worked out of the bullpen the last two seasons. He was second on the team with 18 appearances in 2021, recording one save, 20 strikeouts and a 6.32 ERA in 31.1 innings.
Sophomore first baseman and left-handed pitcher TJ Clarkson was solid as well on the mound with a 2.08 ERA in 8.2 innings. All three of his appearances were starts. Sophomores Randon Hostert and Ben Kibbe also made a handful of starts for the Utes last season and were effective out of the bullpen.
Gary Henderson, the NCBWA 2018 National Coach of the Year, was named Utah's head coach on June 9, 2021. Henderson was the Associate Head Coach at Utah the past two seasons to go along with 31 years of coaching experience at elite programs across the country. The seasoned veteran has coached at Florida, Oregon State, Kentucky and Mississippi State prior to coming to Utah.
"The last two years have been wonderful to immerse myself into the Utah athletics family," Henderson said. "It has been a joy to develop relationships with our student-athletes and I am excited for the opportunity to continue to help them reach their academic, athletic and personal goals. This community, campus and city make the University of Utah one of the best places to be in collegiate athletics.”
After serving as the pitching coach at Mississippi State from 2016-17, Henderson became the interim head coach for the Bulldogs for the 2018 season and led the program to the College World Series in thrilling fashion. Mississippi State advanced to the College World Series when they took down Vanderbilt in three games and the Bulldogs went on to win their first two games in Omaha, before falling to eventual national champion Oregon State twice in the semifinals.
The success he had as interim coach at Mississippi State came as no surprise, as he had been one of the most successful coaches in Kentucky baseball history from 2003-08 as an assistant and 2009-16 as the head coach. The Wildcats won at least 30 games in five-straight seasons for the first time in school history. The team set the program record for wins on three separate occasions and rose to No. 1 in the nation for three weeks in 2012 for the first time in school history. He was voted SEC Coach of the Year by his peers after the school's record-breaking 2012 season. In 2006, the program won its first and only SEC Championship in baseball under the guidance of Henderson and John Cohen.
Henderson reached 200 wins faster than any head coach in Kentucky history. In his tenure with the Wildcats, 72 players were picked in the MLB Draft or signed as free agents. Eight of Henderson's pitching protégés have reached the Majors since 2012.
Prior to Kentucky, Henderson spent five seasons as pitching coach and recruiting coordinator at Oregon State. The Beavers notched the school's first College World Series titles in 2006 and 2007, riding the arms of several players recruited by Henderson. The most notable was CWS MVP Kevin Gunderson, who pitched a brilliant postseason in leading the Beavers to the title.
At Oregon State, Henderson coached eight Beaver pitchers who were drafted by major league teams, five of whom were selected in the top eight rounds. With the help of Henderson's recruiting efforts, the Beavers improved from 19 wins in 1999 to 31 in both the 2001 and 2002 seasons, finishing 31-24 and 31-23, respectively. In his time with the Beavers, two of Henderson's recruiting classes were ranked among the top 30 nationally. Meanwhile, his pitching staff led the Pac-10 Conference in complete games in both the 2000 and 2001 seasons.
Before Oregon State, Henderson served as pitching coach and recruiting coordinator for the high-octane Florida Gators from 1995-98. In that time, he helped the Gators to the SEC Championship and the College World Series in both 1996 and 1998. Collegiate Baseball awarded national rankings to all four of Henderson's recruiting classes at Florida, including a No. 4 spot in 1996. The 1996 season also saw Collegiate Baseball tab Henderson as the National Assistant Coach of the Year.
In his playing days, Henderson pitched one year at Linfield College before transferring to San Diego State. He compiled a 19-5 career record at the two schools, earning his first career win in a road matchup at Southern California.
Todd Guilliams is in his first season at Utah, joining the program after being at Kentucky since the 2017 season as the volunteer assistant.
Guilliams, who has an extensive history of coaching outstanding hitters during his career, again worked his magic at Kentucky as the Wildcats led the Southeastern Conference in a total of 12 offensive statistical categories, while also producing five All-Americans.
Guilliams went to Kentucky after one season at Western Carolina, where he was the hitting coach and ran the offense, in addition to coaching the catchers. In 2016, the WCU offense ranked in the nation's top 25 teams in batting average, runs scored and home runs.
Prior to then he coached from Valdosta State, where he was part of more than 250 wins, three NCAA regional appearances and two Gulf South Conference championships during his eight seasons there (2008-15). During his time at Valdosta State, Guilliams was the team's hitting coach, worked with the catchers and was VSU's Coordinator of Academic Services. He also shared recruiting duties with his brother, head coach Greg Guilliams.
One of the banner seasons for Guilliams came in 2009 as the team led the nation with a school-record 113 home runs—the fourth-most in NCAA Division II history. Prior to making the move to Valdosta, Guilliams and his brother built a powerhouse at Embry-Riddle University, an NAIA institution in Daytona Beach, Fla. Together they won 622 games, against just 228 losses, in 15 years at the school and made six NAIA World Series appearances.
A 1988 graduate of Eastern Kentucky, earning a degree in sport supervision, Guilliams was an Ohio Valley Conference Scholar-Athlete and twice won the Turkey Hughes Scholarship. He was the Colonels' team captain in 1988 while earning Dean's List recognition. He went on to earn his master's degree in physical education in 1990 while serving as an assistant at his alma mater.
Off the field, Guilliams authored a book entitled High-Scoring Baseball: The Complete Guide to Run Production. He has also been a featured speaker numerous times, including at the ABCA national convention and, most recently, at the Best Ever Coaches Clinic in Toronto in January, 2016.
Mike Brown is in his first year as Utah's third base coach and recruiting coordinator. Brown, who played under Gary Henderson at Kentucky, joined Henderson on staff at UK after graduation as a student assistant (2008-09) and then once again in 2014-15 as a graduate assistant before reuniting at Mississippi State (2017-18).
Prior to joining the Utes, Brown served as the associate head coach at Hawaii for three seasons (2019-21). His impact for the Rainbow Warriors was immediate with Scotty Scott becoming the first UH baseball player to garner Big West Freshman Hitter of the Year honors in 2019. In addition, four other players earned All-Big West accolades.
Brown worked with Henderson at Mississippi State, where he served as the camps coordinator and volunteer assistant in 2017 before being elevated to assistant coach in 2018 when Henderson took the helm. That year Hail State team advanced to the College World Series semifinals and won its first two games at TD Ameritrade Ballpark before falling to the eventual champions, Oregon State.
Brown came to Starkville via New Mexico State, where he spent two seasons as the Aggies' assistant coach. Brown was an instrumental part in New Mexico State making the biggest turnaround in college baseball in 2016 with the Aggies winning 23 more games than it did in 2015 and finished 34-23.
As a former baseball player at UK from 2006-07, Brown helped UK to the 2006 SEC Championship and NCAA regionals as a reserve utility man. In 2007, he led the club with a .369 average (8th in the SEC) and 68 runs. He finished 2007 ranked seventh in single-season history in runs, ninth in on-base percentage (.486), fourth in sac bunts (12) and ninth in hit by pitches (18).
He also played for Cuesta College before transferring to UK. In 2005, Brown was awarded the Western State Conference Player of the Year and was named a California Junior College Baseball All-American.
A native of Davis, Calif., Brown earned his bachelor's degree from Kentucky in 2008 in agricultural academics before obtaining his masters of education in sports management in 2014. Brown and his wife, Sarah, have two daughters, Riki and Anna.
Troy Squires is in his first season after spending two years at Kentucky as a graduate assistant coach.
Prior to entering the coaching world, the former catcher spent the 2018 professional season with the GCL Blue Jays. He was selected by Toronto in the 23rd round of the 2018 MLB Draft.
First arriving to Kentucky as a walk-on infielder in 2014, he converted to catcher. Squires was a .264 career hitter over 154 games played, adding 25 doubles, six home runs, 88 RBI and 73 runs scored. He departed the Wildcats owning several top-10 program rankings, including career sacrifices (3rd; 35), career hit by pitch (9th; 30) and both the fourth and fifth-best single-season marks for sacrifices. He was part of two NCAA postseason teams, as Kentucky reached the Louisville Regional in 2014 before returning there for the 2017 Super Regionals.
His career culminated as the recipient of the 2018 Senior CLASS Award, becoming the first UK student-athlete to receive the award in any sport. Squires was also inducted into Kentucky Athletics’ Frank G. Ham Society of Character.
During his collegiate playing career, Squires played for all three other coaches now on the Utah staff, including Henderson (2014-16), as well as assistants Mike Brown (2014) and Todd Guilliams (2017-18).
Squires is a double alumnus of Kentucky, earning his bachelor’s degree in communications in 2017. He followed that up with a master’s in sports leadership in 2020.
Logan Nehls enters his third season on the Utah baseball staff, including his second as director of operations.
In his current role, Nehls is the primary contact for all organizational aspects around the ball club, including team travel, meals, film and assistance with practice planning. He also supervises the Utes’ team of student managers. Nehls first joined Utah Athletics in 2019 in an equipment role for a number of sports, including baseball.
Nehls came to Salt Lake City from Arizona, where he was a three-year equipment assistant for the Wildcats. He also spent the summer 2018 in a similar capacity with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during training camp.
Nehls, a native of Tucson, Ariz., graduated from the U of A in 2019 with a degree in sports and society.
Since 2004, Utah has ushered in the season by bringing in baseball celebrities for a special banquet to support the program. The guest list includes: Terry Francona (2005, '08, '17), Cal Ripken Jr. (2006), Brooks Robinson (2007), Harmon Killebrew (2009), Bruce Hurst (2010), Dave Winfield (2011), Ozzie Smith (2012), Tommy Lasorda (2013), John Farrell (2014), Jim Palmer (2015), Ned Yost (2016), Steve Garvey (2018), Dusty Baker (2019), Charlie Monfort (2020) and David Ross (2022).
2022 Evening With David Ross
The Utah baseball program welcomed Chicago Cubs Manager David Ross in 2022. Pictured (left to right): Athletics Director Mark Harlan, President Taylor Randall, David Ross and Head Coach Gary Henderson.
The Utes were crowned the 2016 Pac-12 Conference champions, winning the title in one of the nation's top-rated baseball leagues that boasts a record 28 NCAA championships. Utah then made it back-to-back Pac-12 upper division finishes after tying for fifth in 2017.
Utah has advanced to NCAA Regionals twice in recent years. The Utes made their first NCAA appearance since 1960 in 2009 after winning the MWC Tournament. The Utes went 2-2 to finish as the runner-up in the Fullerton Regional. Utah went 1-2 in the Oxford Regional in 2016, getting a 10-inning win over No. 7-ranked Ole Miss in the tournament opener.