OXFORD, Miss. – Cliff Godwin has joined the Ole Miss baseball coaching staff as the program’s new hitting coach, head coach Mike Bianco announced on Tuesday.
Godwin comes to the Rebels after spending the last three seasons as the associate head coach at the University of Central Florida, where he ran the Knights’ offense and also served as the recruiting coordinator.
In his time as an assistant coach on the Division I level, Godwin has worked with 39 players who have gone on to the professional ranks.
“I’m very excited to have Cliff on board,” Bianco said. “There was so much interest in the position, but it was obvious that Cliff was the best person for the job. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in the Southeastern Conference with him to the position. We can’t wait for the players to get back in town and start fall practice with him working with our offense.”
“I’d like to thank Coach Bianco and Ole Miss for giving me the opportunity to join the staff and be the hitting coach here,” Godwin said of joining the Rebels. “I’m excited about helping Ole Miss get back to Omaha and bring a national title home to Oxford. That’s always been my goal as a player and as a coach, and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to be a part of taking the Rebels back to the College World Series.”
In his three years at UCF, Godwin helped put the Knights on the map with the fourth-ranked recruiting class in the country in 2010 and a top-20 class in 2011. Godwin helped lead the Knights back to the NCAA Tournament this past season for the first time since 2004. His offense led C-USA in home runs, slugging percentage, hits, runs, RBI and doubles. UCF was paced by a pair of sluggers in All-C-USA first team selection Jonathan Griffin and All-America selection D.J. Hicks. Hicks was also a semifinalist for the Dick Howser Trophy, awarded annually to the nation’s top player.
He also helped coach catcher Beau Taylor, who was named to the Johnny Bench Award Watch list, the award given annually to the nation’s top catcher.
In 2010, Godwin was named the C-USA Assistant Coach of the Year by SEBaseball.com, as he helped the Knights hit a school record and C-USA record .343 clip. The squad also posted 78 home runs and a .538 slugging percentage, both school records.
That season, Godwin also coached Chris Duffy to a .447 average (up from a career average of .283 in the previous three seasons) as the outfielder turned in an .850 slugging percentage with 21 home runs and 81 RBI to set UCF records in both categories. Duffy was named a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award and was named an All-America selection while claiming first team All-C-USA honors. Godwin also coached Chris Taladay to C-USA Freshman of the Year honors. Taladay also earned Freshman All-America honors along with Ryan Breen.
Godwin played at East Carolina from 1997-2001 and helped the Pirates claim a pair of CAA Tournament titles as he served three years as the team captain. He helped lead East Carolina to three NCAA Regionals and a 2001 NCAA Super Regional berth. His senior season, he claimed first team All-Conference and All-East Region honors while being selected as a two-time Academic All-American.
After finishing his collegiate career, Godwin spent two seasons playing professionally with the Gateway Grizzlies in the Frontier League before getting back into the coaching ranks as an assistant coach at Kinston High School in 2003. Since then, he has continued to climb the coaching ranks with stops at UNC-Wilmington, Vanderbilt, Notre Dame, LSU and most recently his three years at Central Florida.
Godwin made a splash immediately in the coaching ranks, helping lead UNC-Wilmington to the program’s first Colonial Athletic Association Championship and an appearance in the 2004 NCAA Regional Championship.
From there, Godwin moved to Vanderbilt where he served as the Commodores’ Director of Baseball Operations for two seasons before moving to Notre Dame as an assistant coach under then head coach Paul Manieri for the 2006 season.
As a part of the Notre Dame coaching staff, Godwin helped the Fighting Irish hit at a .313 clip and claim the Big East Tournament Title to go along with a berth in the NCAA Lexington Regional. He coached Craig Cooper to All-America and Big East Player of the Year honors on the way to becoming a seventh-round draft pick.
Prior to coming to UCF, Godwin helped the LSU offense hit .306 in 2008 with 100 homers and 95 stolen bases. The squad recorded at least 10 runs in a game 20 times and posted a .509 slugging percentage. Towards the end of the season and including the NCAA Tournament, LSU posted a 23-game winning streak en route to a trip to Omaha and the College World Series.
The Tigers were paced by Baseball America First Team All-American Blake Dean, who batted .353 and had 73 RBI. The sophomore was the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional Most Outstanding Player and the SEC Tournament Most Valuable Player. Meanwhile, first baseman Matt Clark, who led the nation with 28 dingers, went in the 12th round of the 2008 MLB Draft.
Godwin was also responsible for developing LSU catcher Micah Gibbs into a 2008 Freshman All-American for the Tigers. Gibbs eventually served as the starting catcher for the United States National Team that went undefeated and took gold at the 2008 World Championships, and he later was drafted in the third round of the 2010 MLB Draft. Godwin also mentored a pair of LSU hitters who were selected in the top two rounds of the 2009 draft, as Jared Mitchell was taken in the first round and DJ LeMahieu heard his name called in the second round.
Godwin helped build the top ranked recruiting class in the nation in 2007 for LSU, according to Collegiate Baseball magazine. That class featured nine signees selected in that season’s MLB Draft.