Kopp joins baseball program as volunteer assistant

Kevin O’Sullivan has hired one of his former players to fill his vacant volunteer assistant coach position. Florida Atlantic pitching coach David Kopp will join the Gators program, UF announced on Thursday.

“We are excited to add David to our staff and for all that he is going to bring to our program,” O’Sullivan said in a statement. “I have known David for 20 years, having recruited and coached him during my time at Clemson. He is a tremendous person and coach that has performed at a high level everywhere he has been, and will be a great fit for our team moving forward.”

Kopp played for Clemson with O’Sullivan as his pitching coach from 2005-07. All three of the teams Kopp was on advanced to the Super Regional round, and the 2006 squad won the ACC Championship and advanced to the College World Series as the No. 1 national seed.

Kopp was the winning pitcher in the victories that clinched the regional title and the super regional title. He was voted a team captain and named First Team All-ACC.

The Margate, Florida, native was selected in the second round of the 2007 MLB Draft by the St. Louis Cardinals. He made it to Triple-A Memphis and also played a couple of years within the Detroit Tigers organization before retiring as a player in 2015.

He spent one season on the staff at Clemson before joining Florida Southern as pitching coach and recruiting coordinator. Kopp’s pitching staff ranked first in the country in strikeout-to-walk ratio. Junior righty Jake Walsh was a finalist for the Brett Tomko Award, given to the best pitcher in Division 2.

Kopp joined the Florida Atlantic staff prior to the 2018 season. In 2021, his starting rotation consisted of Second Team All-C-USA member Hunter Cooley and Javi Rivera, who posted a 7-0 record and was drafted in the 20th round by the Cincinnati Reds.

In the brief 2020 season, reliever Mike Entenza posted a 3-0 record, 0.55 earned run average and 27 strikeouts in 16 1/3 innings. Cooley gave up only two runs in 11 2/3 innings.

In 2019, starter Blake Sanderson earned First Team All-C-USA honors, while Mike Ruff led the team with 98 strikeouts, the 10th-highest total in school history. Those two, along with reliever Vince Coletti, were selected in the MLB Draft.

Coletti served as the setup man for closer Zach Schneider, whose 16 saves were the fifth most in the nation.

In his first year with the Owls, they finished fourth in their conference in ERA and surpassed the 500-strikeout mark for only the third time in program history.

Ace Jake Miednik was named First Team All-C-USA after posting an 8-1 record. Schneider and Drew Peden were also named all-conference, and Schneider was chosen as a Second Team All-American by the NCBWA. Schneider’s 15 saves were seventh in the country, while Peden finished fourth nationally with 36 appearances.

Three pitchers from his inaugural staff were drafted.

Kopp replaces long-time assistant Lars Davis at UF. Davis left last week for the hitting coach job at Georgia State.

“I am proud and excited to join Kevin O’Sullivan and the Gators staff in Gainesville,” Kopp said. “I am looking forward to reconnecting with Sully and helping to continue the pursuit of National Championship-caliber baseball in Gainesville. Let’s go, Gators!”

Kopp’s pitching background makes things interesting. O’Sullivan is regarded as one of the top pitching gurus in the college game and is very involved with his pitchers’ development. However, the Gators have posted ERAs of 5.37 and 4.39 in two of the last three seasons.

Will O’Sullivan change the way the pitchers are coached? O’Sullivan has been known to make some tough and somewhat controversial decisions in the past, so this will be something to watch once fall practice begins.

Ethan was born in Gainesville and has lived in the Starke, Florida, area his entire life. He played basketball for five years and knew he wanted to be a sportswriter when he was in middle school. He’s attended countless Gators athletic events since his early childhood, with baseball being his favorite sport to attend. He’s a proud 2019 graduate of the University of Florida and a 2017 graduate of Santa Fe College. He interned with the University Athletic Association’s communications department for 1 ½ years as a student and has spent the last two football seasons writing for InsideTheGators.com. He is a long-suffering fan of the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Tampa Bay Rays. You can follow him on Twitter @ehughes97.