Darin Erstad is definitely one of Nebraska's most noted baseball alumni. By naming Erstad as head coach, Athletic Director Tom Osborne has once again made a statement though this hiring that toughness, work ethic and fundamentals are a priority at the University of Nebraska.
Erstad, who has to rank in the Top Five on anyone's list of baseball players from North Dakota, is the poster boy for of toughness. In high school he played football, hockey and competed in track and field at Jamestown High School. He played on the Jamestown American Legion baseball team because his high school didn't sponsor a team. Records, state championships and awards, including the AP North Dakota Athlete of the Year in 1992, were hallmarks of Erstad's high school career.
Going on to star in both football and baseball at the University of Nebraska, Erstad was the punter on the 1994 National Championship football team and a 1995 finalist for baseball's Golden Spikes Award. Later that same year he was the No.1 overall pick by the California Angels in the 1995 Major League Baseball amateur draft.
Following a 14-year MLB career with the Angels, including a key role on their 2002 World Championship team, Erstad played for the Chicago White Sox and Houston Astros before retiring and returning to Nebraska as a volunteer assistant coach and hitting coach.
The Huskers Big Ten schedule kicks off on February 17 in Peoria, Ariz. against Gonzaga and will feature 31 home games at Hawks Field and 13 games against teams appearing in the 2011 NCAA Tournament, including a series against College World Series-qualifier California. The schedule will feature a full slate against conference foes such as Ohio State, Minnesota and Purdue as well as non-conference opponents.
There is no question that under Erstad, the Huskers baseball squad will work hard, play hard and be aggressive on the base paths in their quest to return to the College World Series.