Third baseman fills role as leader for Generals on and off field
June 22, 2010 at 1:22 a.m.
For most players, there's an adjustment period with their coaches when they first arrive with a new team.
But not so for Brian Nephew with Generals coach Chris Clemons.
"I know the way he coaches, and he's a great great coach," said the soon-to-be senior at Texas-Arlington.
Nephew played his sophomore year at McLennan Community College, working with Clemons there. Then spent last summer playing for the Generals with Clemons as his coach before transferring to Arlington.
The third baseman has split time this season with Lawton Langford, and has been one of the team's offensive bright spots, batting .345.
He's also emerged, much like he did last season, Clemons said, as one of the team's go-to leaders on and off the field.
It's a virtue Nephew said he learned at home.
"Growing up, my dad always told me to always be a leader and to play my hardest," he said. "Every team I've played for, I've always felt like I need to step up.
"You always need a couple of guys that do that, and I love falling into that role, and I feel like a leader on and off the field."
Clemons said Nephew is the ultimate team leader, and he leads by example in the clubhouse and on the field.
"He's a guy that comes in and gets respect by work ethic," Clemons said. "He is a guy you love to have on a team, he's going to do everything you ask of him to the best of his ability, and guys just flock to that."
Nephew doesn't fit the prototypical player for the Generals, but his skills are deceptive. He isn't the base stealing type, but Clemons said he's a smart baseball player who knows how to take on the game.
"He is more of a hard-nosed, gap-to-gap hitter," he said. "He runs the bases well, but he's not very fast. He's not going to steal a lot of bases but he knows how to go from first to third on a base hit.
"All the baseball instincts are there, his baseball IQ is very high. He's just a guy that knows what he needs to do and how to do it."
Despite having a few smaller Division-I offers out of high school, Nephew said he liked the offer he got from McLennan.
"I didn't really want to go out of high school and sit down and get redshirted and stuff," he said. "I worked hard for a job and I started two years."
He chose to go to UT-Arlington because it was a chance to head home he said, and to take a scholarship with a good school.
"I knew it had a great program and it was back and home," he said. "I wanted to go back and play in front of my home town."
Nephew said his goals are simple this summer with the Generals - get better. He said he had problems at the plate and in the field with Arlington, but was happy that his coach there stuck with him all season.
"I struggled a little bit at UTA, but I got a good amount of playing time," he said. "I want to go back and help the team get wins, get a faster, a little bit stronger. Get a little bit better at every aspect of the game."