Austin Langworthy has given a lot to the University of Florida, including a bone in his hand. He broke his hamate bone as a freshman and, as Langworthy describes it to me over the phone, “you don’t really need it, so when you break it they just take it out.”
It’s a small price to pay for a kid from Williston, Florida who grew up watching the Florida Gators more than any professional baseball team.
Langworthy recently walked with his girlfriend of five years, Kaitlyn Bannon, around an empty McKethan Stadium. Langworthy guesses he’s been coming to games since he was six years old. Regardless of what his future holds, the stadium of his childhood, the one where he became a young man, the one where his home run sent the Florida Gators to Omaha and inspired Jeff Cardozo’s now historic “Lang with a Bang!” call, will be demolished and the pair wanted to get one more opportunity to soak it in.
“It was so neat to walk on the field with him,” Bannon told me. “I never realized how big left field really is!”
Walking around the two took pictures and a trip down memory lane. They’ve had many “date nights” in that stadium and as many college baseball girlfriends can attest, many Valentine’s Days are spent at the park rather than some fancy dinner.
They are small sacrifices in retrospect and walking around the grounds of the soon to be demolished stadium. Langworthy would make all of those sacrifices and do it all over again if he could.
“For me, I do have the opportunity to come back. I might have the opportunity to sign as well,” Langworthy tells me over the phone. “I don’t know. I don’t really know what the future holds at this point. I’m kind of just playing everything by ear.”
Now, he sits in a weird void. He has the opportunity to come back to school thanks to a NCAA Division I Council vote. He’ll finish his degree this fall and he has a practicum portion of his degree that he would be able to do then and could figure something out in the spring. He also has the dream of playing baseball professionally.
“Obviously I’m getting a little bit older and wanna get into pro ball at some point before I’m 25,” he said. “That’s kind of the biggest thing.”
As of this story being published, there is no concrete plan for the MLB Draft. According to reports the draft will still be held virtually on June 10. The draft will be anywhere between 5-10 rounds rather than the normal 40. The uncertainty with the draft and the signability of players could help Langworthy’s chances of being drafted (he wasn’t selected in the 2019 draft). Playing professionally is the ultimate goal. There’s no guarantee that Langworthy will be drafted or be able to sign a professional contract. Obviously a 10-round draft would be better for his chance to get selected but there’s always a chance a team could call and offer him a contract after the draft is over.
In a situation full of uncertainty he made one thing clear.
“If I was to come back to school and play it would be at the University of Florida,” Langworthy answered when I asked if he would potentially play his second senior season elsewhere. “I’ve talked to Sully a little bit and we’re on the same page where it’s kind of just play it by ear.”
Langworthy has meant so much to the Florida baseball program the last four years. He started 53 games as a freshman in 2017 and was named to the 2017 College World Series All-Tournament team after going 5-18 (.278) with two doubles, a home run and a .556 slugging percentage. He played in 181 games through his first three seasons and would have finished inside the top five in terms of games played at the University of Florida by the end of the 2020 season.
Walking around McKethan Stadium with Kaitlyn, Langworthy doesn’t know what his future will hold but he has the time to look around, think about stealing the padding in left field that commemorates the 2017 National Championship (he didn’t) and reflects on his career.
“It’s been a dream come true,” Langworthy said of his time at UF. “Being a kid from a small kid like me, 40 minutes away from a big school like this, getting the opportunity to represent this university and win a National Championship and hit the walk off, I mean it’s probably the biggest moment of my baseball career to this point. It’s kind of hard to put it into words what this program and this school mean to me.”