Assistant Coach/Recruiting Coordinator
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Matt Collins will begin his third season as an assistant coach with the Stephen F. Austin baseball team in 2016-17.
One of the driving forces behind the SFA's 13-game improvement from 2015 to 2016, Collins work with SFA's batters helped engineer the turnaround. As a team, the 'Jacks batted .298 - the 34th-best batting average in NCAA Division I baseball - and finished the season with a record of 30-30. It was the fifth season of 30 or more wins in program history and the first since 2011.
Six of Collins' hitters earned All-Southland Conference recognition with Conner Fikes (outfield), Garrett McMullen (outfield) and Kyle Thornell (third base) getting spots on the All-SLC First Team. Zac Michener (outfield) was lauded as the SLC's Newcomer of the Year as well as an All-SLC Third Team performer while Nick Ramos (second base) and Tyler Kendrick (shortstop) locked on to All-SLC Honorable Mention honors.
Under Collins' direction, Fikes transformed into one of the nation's top hitters as he finished 22nd nationally with six triples, eighth nationally with eight sacrifice flies and 105th nationally as well as third in the Southland Conference in batting average (.362).
In his first year in Nacogdoches SFA posted a 17-34 record, including an 11-18 mark in Southland Conference play. He worked closely with All-SLC selection Kyle Thornell, who ended the season ranking third nationally in triples (8).
Collins came to SFA from McNeese State, where he served as an assistant coach from 2012-14. Collins works primarily with the hitters while also serving as the team's recruiting coordinator.
While with the Cowboys, Collins helped develop six All-Southland first team selections, with three bats picking up such honors in 2014, the most among league members. McNeese State received four honors in total for the first time since 2011.
A 2010 graduate of Louisiana-Monroe, Collins joined the McNeese staff prior to the 2012 season after spending 2011 as a volunteer assistant at ULM. During his time with the Cowboys, he helped recruit and develop power hitters such as Jackson Gooch, a two-time All-SLC selection (2014-First Team; 2013-Second Team) and the 2013 McNeese Triple Crown winner (.301, 5 HR, 34 RBI) and Seth Granger, the 2012 team batting (.327) and home run (4) champion.
At ULM, he played on the school's 2008 Sun Belt championship team and collected the 10th-most hits (79) in school history in 2009 to finish his career with as a .334 collegiate hitter.
Prior to ULM, Collins played two seasons at LSU-Eunice where he helped the team to its first national junior college championship while serving as the team captain in 2006. He accounted for all three of LSU-Eunice's runs in the World Series championship game and was named to the all-tournament team.
Collins is a graduate of Parkview Baptist High School where he earned all-state recognition in both football and baseball and helped his team to the Class 3A state baseball title. He is the son of former McNeese assistant and current Sam Houston State football assistant head coach and defensive coordinator Mike Collins. He is also the grandson of Pat Collins, who coached ULM to a national football title in 1987.
Head coach Johnny Cardenas on Collins' hiring:
"I really feel like Matt is going to give us an advantage in changing our recruiting landscape. He has connections both in Texas and Louisiana that I feel will broaden our reach a little bit, not to mention a knowledge of the Southland Conference. He will be working primarily with our hitters. I think he will slide right in and I'm excited to see him continue the direction of our hitting."