FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Arkansas pitcher Kevin Kopps won the 2021 Dick Howser Trophy on Friday, becoming the first reliever to win the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association's player of the year award. The NCBWA also presented Kopps with its 16th Stopper of the Year Award as college baseball's top relief pitcher.
Kopps was one of five finalists, including Vanderbilt pitchers Kumar Rocker and Jack Leiter, Texas Tech second baseman Jace Jung and Florida State catcher Matheu Nelson, for the 34th Dick Howser Trophy, which is known as the Heisman Trophy of college baseball.
"Kevin Kopps had a simply amazing season," David Feaster, chair of the Dick Howser Trophy Committee presented by The Game Headwear, said. "To accomplish what he did as a pitcher after the COVID-19 pandemic and Tommy John surgery is extremely admirable. He literally placed the Arkansas team on his back and made the Razorbacks the No. 1 squad nationally for most of the 2021 season."
As college baseball's most dominant pitcher, Kopps finished the 2021 campaign with a 12-1 record and 11 saves. He posted the nation's lowest ERA (0.90) and WHIP (0.76), striking out 131 in 89 2/3 innings of work. Opposing hitters had a .162 average against the right-hander, who set the program's single-season record for ERA during his historic year.
Kopps, who was named the SEC Pitcher of the Year and Collegiate Baseball National Player of the Year, is also a semifinalist for the Golden Spikes Award - another one of college baseball's most prestigious individual awards. He was voted the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association District 7 Player of the Year and was the first reliever to win the College Baseball Foundation's National Pitcher of the Year Award.
The Dick Howser Trophy honors the most outstanding collegiate player each year, but it also is based upon the tenets of leadership, moral character and courage. Kopps is the second Razorback student-athlete to win the award, joining former Razorback and current Kansas City Royals outfielder Andrew Benintendi.
Benintendi swept college baseball's national player of the year honors in 2015, winning the Howser Trophy as well as the Golden Spikes Award.