There are a few possible roads college baseball players can take once their time in college is done. Professional baseball is the obvious goal, but a life in coaching and teaching is another avenue.
So after a year of being around this year’s seniors, Mark Kingston believes that’s especially true for one infielder: Matt Williams.
“He’d be a tremendous coach,” Kingston said. “He’s smart; he has a very even keel demeanor about him. He knows the game inside and out, he has good instinct.”
For Williams, coaching is in his DNA.
His father, Steve Williams, has been the head coach at Belton-Honea Path for almost 30 years and won over 500 games in the Upstate.
Matt Williams, who was honored Saturday during South Carolina’s senior day, hasn’t ruled out eventually moving into the coaching ranks once his playing days are over.
He joked that he doesn’t want to teach, so he’d want to coach at a higher level, and he’s gotten first-hand looks at how to do that over the last five years.
“Being here it’s given me connections with big league guys,” Williams said. “I like to pick their brains, figure out what they know and pass it along to a younger generation.”
For Williams, it’s been a different journey than for most seniors. He’s a fifth-year senior that’s been at the same school for his entire career.
With transfers and players opting to go pro after their junior seasons, it’s not typical to see a player stick to one school for four years, let alone five.
Williams was redshirted his freshman year and never saw consistent time, playing in just 28 games over his first two years on the team.
“Coming in my freshman year I almost went JUCO, almost went to a few smaller schools,” Williams said. “I felt like I could come and contribute here. At the time I was disappointed, but in time it’s helped me.”
After a rough first two seasons where he had just 34 at-bats, he started to put it together during his redshirt junior year.
He played in 52 games with 33 starts at first base, hitting .287 with a home run and 12 RBIs. This year he's been a rotation player at first base, starting there a lot recently during the team’s stretch run.
He’s hit .245 with three home runs and 20 RBIs, both career highs. One of those homers, a game-tying shot late against Clemson, is something he called “surreal” and a memory he’ll remember for the rest of his life.
He’s starting to count down the games — there are three games left in his regular season career — but has nothing but admiration for his time at South Carolina.
“I haven’t really regretted anything,” he said.