Taylor Officially Takes Helm of Davidson Baseball
DAVIDSON, N.C. – Rucker Taylor began his tenure as Davidson’s head baseball coach on Monday, taking over for 28-year skipper and the program’s all-time winningest coach, Dick Cooke, who is now an associate athletic director.
Cooke announced in February that the 2018 season would be his final in the Wildcat dugout.
Taylor, the 26th head coach in program history, takes the helm after six seasons on Cooke’s staff, including the last four as associate head coach.
“My opportunity to be the head coach at Davidson is a result of our players’ efforts and so many others since I arrived to campus,” Taylor said. “Starting with the first senior class, there has been an incredible investment by the players. The results have shown up on the field and there have been so many wonderful things going on off the field as well.”
“I would like to thank President Quillen, our athletic administration, of course Coach Cooke, and all of those who helped make this a possibility. The other coaches, training, and strength staffs have made this an incredible place for a student athlete to get a world-class education and play baseball on a nationally recognized level. I look forward to continuing to build our program and developing our players.”
Since coming to Davidson in 2013, the Wildcats have recorded a 171-145 record (.541) led by a program-best 35 wins in 2017 and 32 in 2018 (regular-season record). After consecutive Atlantic 10 Championship appearances, including the program’s first-ever conference title in 2017, the Wildcats captured the Chapel Hill NCAA Regional crown. The ‘Cats knocked off No. 2 North Carolina before advancing to the Super Regional in College Station, Texas.
After becoming just the second No. 4 seed to sweep a NCAA Regional, and only the sixth to advance, Davidson concluded the 2017 campaign ranked as high as 16th in the National Polls.
Taylor’s guidance has helped 16 former players earn selection in the Major League Baseball Draft, including his most recent product, outfielder Will Robertson ’17, who graduated as one of Davidson’s most decorated players in school history.
The Wildcats have ranked in the top of the league in multiple offensive categories since Taylor’s tenure began, as well as earning national rankings in slugging and on-base percentages, home runs, and walks. Taylor has helped guide the Wildcats to five consecutive winning seasons, another program first. In his second season as an assistant, Davidson finished second in the Southern Conference, their highest ever in that league. HIs first recruiting class guided the ‘Cats to the Supers, while his 2018 class left Davidson as the winningest class in program history.
Prior to his stint at Davidson, Taylor also spent six seasons at Samford (2007-12), helping guide the Bulldogs to a school-best 41 wins in 2012, as well as the team’s first-ever Southern Conference title and subsequent NCAA Regional appearance.
A 2006 graduate of Vanderbilt University, Taylor was a member of the first Super Regional team in Commodores’ history, spending time as a middle infielder and designated hitter.
Taylor will announce his inaugural staff later this week.
What They’re Saying About Taylor
“Since Rucker’s arrival in 2013, our program has made consistent progress including an A-10 championship. He has been an integral part of the success and is more than ready to guide this program to be one of the premier programs in the Atlantic 10, and I’m excited to see his era begin.” – Scott Applegate, Associate Athletic Director
“Rucker Taylor is a special guy. I knew he was going to coach when he played here at Vanderbilt. What makes him different is his respect and care level for people around him…he gets it honestly from his parents. You mix his humanistic qualities with his baseball teaching habits and you have a special mentor for those young men. I am most happy for Rucker and the Davidson College community. He is a tremendous addition.” – Tim Corbin, Vanderbilt Head Coach, 2015 National Champions
“I’m so proud of Rucker for what he’s been able to help build at Davidson, and am sure he will continue to build a solid foundation and culture within the baseball team. His care for the players and his passion for the game is a great fit at for that program.” – Derek Johnson, Milwaukee Brewers pitching coach
“I am thrilled for Coach Taylor and his opportunity to lead the Davidson baseball program. He is someone who fully understands what it takes to be successful at Davidson and provides the perfect transition from Coach Cooke’s incredible tenure. Coach Taylor has impacted the program on and off the field since day one and was instrumental in my own personal development as a player. As an alum, I’m excited to see a familiar face in the Davidson dugout and look forward to the future success he will bring.” -– Forrest Brandt ’14, 2014 Southern Conference Player of the Year
“Coach Taylor does a great job developing players and helping them get the most out of their skill sets. He teaches the game in a way his players can understand and trust. I can’t wait to see where he takes the program.” – Will Robertson ’17, current outfielder in the Baltimore Orioles organization, All-American
“I was fortunate enough to be able to share many memories with RT since we both started at Davidson the same year. He is not only an outstanding coach/mentor, but an even better person off the field. I can’t thank him enough for playing a huge part in my development, and also in the development of the Davidson baseball program. I am looking forward to seeing what he can do for the program in the upcoming years because I have no doubt it will be nothing short of great. The Davidson community will miss Coach Cooke immensely but I can’t think of anyone better to step in and carry on what the Davidson baseball program really means: becoming better men on and off the field.” – Durin O’Linger ’17, current pitcher in the Boston Red Sox organization