The ceremony was over, and for a few minutes Jamie Corr was back in charge at Lambert on Thursday. "Let’s get a picture together," Corr said, so Chris Cummings, JD Dutka, Ian Kimbrell and Thomas Reddin sat back down at a nearby table. Corr stood behind them wearing a purple polo shirt with a light blue FSW logo, the emblem of his new position and the players’ future destination.
None could have guessed last June, when Corr accepted the FSW job soon after leading Lambert to the Class AAAAAA championship and the No. 1 ranking by two national publications, that he’d be back at Thursday’s signing ceremony for eight Longhorns players.
He had four of his own in Cummings, Dutka, Kimbrell and Reddin who all signed with FSW, a junior college program in Fort Myers, Fla., that Corr is helping resurrect after a 17-year absence. He also got to see former players Brady Ballstadt, Ben McCurley and Matt Vonderschmidt sign with Piedmont College and JJ Clements sign with the Coast Guard Academy, bringing Lambert’s total of college signees this season to a staggering 13.
"When I got this job, I knew I had 30 players back at Lambert that I would love to have," Corr said.
Corr could only convince so many as he spent the last seven months building the FSW program. While he’s close to hiring an assistant coach and still interviewing pitching coaches, Corr devoted most of his attention to assembling his first recruiting class, a 19-player group that included two from Puerto Rico and several from Florida.
But Corr leaned heavily on his familiarity with Georgia high school baseball, getting commitments from Tift County to Mill Creek and everywhere in between.
"Moving down to Florida has let me see that the state of Georgia is the hot-bed of talent right now," Corr said, "and there is no hotter spot than right here in Forsyth County."
Corr helped put Forsyth at the center of the high school baseball world last season. Lambert first caught the country’s attention when it won the USA Classic to catapult to the top of several national polls. Next came the undefeated regular season, the march through the Class AAAAAA playoffs against Dacula, Mill Creek, Luella, perennial powerhouse Parkview and finally a dramatic, theatrical three-game series victory against defending champion Milton in the state finals.
And then, Corr was gone, announcing he would become the head baseball coach at FSW where he played in 1993 when it was called Edison State College.
The team was stunned.
"Honestly, I didn’t know what happened, really," Dutka said.
"It was pretty shocking," Kimbrell said.
"It was hard," Cummings said.
Shock turned to understanding to possibility. Corr offered all four at various stages over the next seven months.
Each had other options, but for all the idiosyncrasies of the junior college route, Corr’s presence at FSW offered a familiarity other schools couldn’t compete with.
He was the coach that gave Dutka a second chance after enduring some trouble before transferring to Lambert last season ("He’s turned into family for me," Dutka said.)
He was the coach Kimbrell knew as a little kid visiting his travel baseball team to give extra instruction ("I probably wouldn’t have taken [the offer] unless I knew the man as well as I do," Kimbrell said.)
He was the coach who taught Cummings all the little things the past three years ("I love playing for coach Corr," Cummings said.)
Corr gets four players who were significant contributors off his last Lambert team. Dutka hit .360 with five home runs and 34 RBIs and went 11-1 on the mound. Kimbrell hit .460 with 29 RBIs and played near-flawless defense at first base. Cummings hit .267 as the designated third baseman on days Dutka pitched. Reddin carved a niche as a left-handed pitching specialist out of the bullpen to get critical late-inning outs.
Now they get at least another year to see what they can accomplish with their old coach.
"All four of the young men are high quality individuals that not only represented Lambert in a first-class manner but will do the same at Florida Southwestern," Corr said.