What would you do for $300,000?
Would you sign a piece of paper? Would you leave the school that you love, teammates who’ve become best friends, a city that has everything?
Cole Green didn’t.
Green was drafted in the fourth round by the Detroit Tigers last summer but turned down a $300,000 signing bonus and a chance to play professionally for another year at Texas.
“It was what was right in my heart, so I just decided to do it,” Green said. “I understand I’m probably going to lose a bit of money, but the college experience — living in Austin, going to UT, playing here — is irreplaceable.”
Six Longhorns were drafted last year; Green is the only one returning.
“It’s a sign that he’s unselfish,” said pitching coach Skip Johnson. “He wanted to come back for his team and for his school, and I think it’s pretty special when you see a kid that does that.”
Green returns for his senior year to build upon a 2010 season where he compiled an 11-2 record as a starter with a 2.74 ERA.
But Green’s presence isn’t only felt on the mound. The entire Texas defense gets a boost when Green is in the game.
“Whenever you have any one pitcher that is a dominating-type player like he is, it’s extremely important,” said Texas head coach Augie Garrido. “It makes everyone else on the whole team better.”
Garrido explained that if a pitcher is good enough, a batter can’t square up when he hits the ball and can’t hit it as hard. The less contact, the less speed of the ball, allowing infielders to make plays they otherwise wouldn’t make.
“Pitching affects everybody,” Garrido said.
But Green needs the guys behind him just as much as they need him. Green is a contact pitcher, which means he relies on ground outs and fly balls to get hitters out as opposed to striking them out like teammate Taylor Jungmann. Though the two pitchers have different styles, they do everything together and are still able to find ways to make each other better.
“Last year, we had a thing with me, him and Brandon Workman going on, who was going to do the worst out of the three,” Green said. “If you can find anything like that, anything within your teammates to keep you pumped and competitive, it’s a great thing.”
But through all the competitiveness and strenuous workouts, the two manage to keep it light.
“When he’s on the mound, I’m goofing around talking about him, and when I’m on the mound, I’m sure he’s doing the same thing,” Jungmann said.
Jungmann enters the season surrounded by hype, having been named to several preseason all-American lists. Green is also a preseason all-American and knows something about hype, after starting last season 9-0 and going 30.2 consecutive innings without giving up a run.
“I just tell Taylor not to worry about [the hype]; do what you do and play your game,” Green said. “He doesn’t have to change anything or prove anything to anyone. He just needs to go out there and be himself.”
Both pitchers are honored by the preseason accolades but both realize it’s only preseason, and individual awards mean nothing to a team trying to win a championship. The two haven’t even congratulated each other on the honors or spoken one word about them to their coaches or teammates.
“I have very high feelings for this program and this team and I wanted to come back and win and play another year here,” Green said. “To win a national championship is really my only goal this season.”