OMAHA, Neb. • It’s difficult enough for a freshman to find his way in one sport in the Southeastern Conference, much less two.
But that’s exactly what Brad Cumbest has done this year.
Cumbest took the field at tight end for Mississippi State’s football team in the fall and has also played the outfield for the Diamond Dogs this spring.
“Brad’s got more energy than any of our guys, he can do it all,” said MSU baseball coach Chris Lemonis. “He’s either going to be catching a fish or chasing a hog after practice. He just can’t sit still so it’s probably good that he plays two sports.
“He’s our team’s personality and all the guys love him. He’s put his work in, he just has to do a little more than everybody else.”
The Hurley native had every intention of playing both sports when he arrived in Starkville, but still had to get the blessing of football coach Joe Moorhead since that’s the sport for which he’s on scholarship. The baseball staff met with Moorhead and devised a plan so Cumbest could play baseball and still practice with the football team this spring.
“Coach Moorhead and coach Lemonis really work together to help me get where I need to be so that I can be successful and also be ready for life if there is no ball after this,” Cumbest said.
Cumbest’s football responsibilities kept him off the diamond for midweek games against East Carolina and Mississippi Valley State but Moorhead promised him that he would not miss any SEC action.
In fact, Cumbest did not dress out for the Bulldogs’ spring football game. Instead, he was in the starting lineup as a designated hitter when MSU took on Alabama that day across campus at Dudy Noble Field.
Cumbest, who has earned the nickname “Mule”, did not practice with the Diamond Dogs during the fall and admitted his baseball skills were a little rusty when he joined the team following the Outback Bowl.
“I was a little nervous coming out here, I ain’t going to lie,” Cumbest said.
But Cumbest quickly acclimated himself back to the diamond. After all, he hit .456 with eight home runs and 31 RBIs and went 10-1 on the mound with a 1.01 ERA as a senior at East Central High School.
In his first season on the diamond as a freshman, Cumbest has appeared in 33 games and made eight starts. He is currently batting .286 with four doubles and 11 RBIs and hit his first home run against South Carolina on May 16.
“I almost blacked out running around the bases,” Cumbest said. “It’s something being a young guy and hitting your first home run. You have to think ‘wow, that really happened’.”
In football, Cumbest played in three games last fall and was able to preserve his redshirt status. His only catch of the season went for 21 yards against Louisiana-Lafayette.
“It helped me find out what the speed of the game was really like out there,” Cumbest said.
Cumbest is listed on both the football and baseball rosters at 6-foot-5, 245 pounds but might be a little under that weight-wise right now.
“I’ve probably lost five or six pounds but that’s really not a big deal,” Cumbest said. “I’ll get my month of lifting in after baseball is done so I’ll be right back on track when I go back to football.”