Arkansas Razorbacks' Kevin Kopps becomes first relief pitcher to win Howser Trophy as top college player

OMAHA, Neb. -- Arkansas' Kevin Kopps won the Dick Howser Trophy as the top player in college baseball Friday, making him the first relief pitcher to receive the award.

Kopps, who had Tommy John surgery in 2018, was the star pitcher for a Razorbacks team ranked No. 1 much of the season and the No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

The SEC pitcher of the year had a hand in 23 of the Hogs' 50 wins with a 12-1 record and 11 saves. Kopps appeared in 33 games, allowed nine runs in 89 2/3 innings and struck out 131. The senior from Sugar Land, Texas, led the nation with his 0.90 ERA, and opponents batted .162 against him.

Kopps is the second Arkansas player to receive the Howser Trophy in its 34-year history. The first was current Kansas City Royal outfielder Andrew Benintendi in 2015.

Other finalists were Vanderbilt pitchers Kumar Rocker and Jack Leiter, Florida State catcher Matheu Nelson and Texas Tech second baseman Jace Jung.

The award is named in honor of Howser, an All-America shortstop at Florida State in 1957-58 who later coached the Seminoles and managed the New York Yankees and Kansas City Royals. The National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association administers voting for the award.