Mississippi State University's Dudy Noble Field has been home to so many Bulldog fan favorites. Brent Rooker, an MSU alumni and former baseball Bulldog, is now advancing in his baseball career as a player for the Minnesota Twins, after getting called into the major leagues back in September of this year.
During his time on the Bulldog baseball team, Rooker was coached by the current director of athletics, John Cohen. Cohen spoke very highly of Rooker as both an athlete and a person.
"He's a really creative, intelligent guy," Cohen said. "In baseball, in order for you to be successful, you really have to be able to recreate the game in your mind, and he has that ability."
Cohen said Rooker was a leader on the field with his teammates. The word "camaraderie" kept coming up both when Cohen was asked about Rooker's abilities as well as when Rooker himself was asked about his college baseball experience.
"The camaraderie you have with your teammates in college still exists in pro ball for sure, it's just not quite the same as it is in college." Rooker said when asked about changes he is going through as his career advances.
One of Rooker's former MSU teammates, Jacob Billingsley, also went on to play ball beyond the college level. He arrived at MSU with Rooker in 2013 and stayed with the Bulldogs for five years until he was drafted by the Astros in 2018, where he played until this spring when he was released due to COVID-19.
"He could always hit a ball a mile," Billingsley said about Rooker. "There was always that pro potential there for him, and I think everyone kind of noticed that."
Both Billingsley and Rooker redshirted their freshman year at MSU, meaning that their odds of getting to play were not very high. However, both guys made their names known on the team and were bettering their stats each season throughout their time as Bulldogs. Billingsley also spoke about the camaraderie he felt on the team.
"It's different in college," Billingsley said. "One of the reasons is because it's got to be. You care for one another, and you're directly attempting to win. In pro ball, of course you want to win, but the focus is more on developing as a player. You're all coming together for one thing."
Aside from Rooker's evident leadership skills and focus on community among his teammates, his career has also developed through his hard work and talent on the field. After leaving MSU and entering the minor league, he only got to play for a short time before getting injured. In one of his early games with the Minnesota Twins, Rooker broke his forearm and is still in the process of recovering from that injury before he re-enters for spring training.
In the same way that Cohen spoke highly of him, Rooker had a lot to say about his gratuity towards his former coach. He said he still carries a lot of things he learned about the sport during his time in Starkville with him into his professional baseball career.
"Things that Coach Cohen taught me along the way, whether it be about practicing or preparation or in-game type stuff, have all been a huge part of my success," Rooker said.
Both his former teammate and coach, Billingsley and Cohen, said they looked forward to seeing where Rooker's leadership and playing abilities would lead him after he recovers from his current injury.
"He's gonna have a really bright career in front of him," Billingsley said. "Everyone knows that, that's not a doubt in anyone's mind now."