STEPHENVILLE – A veteran assistant coach who just helped his team power through the WAC Baseball Tournament has been picked to lead the Texans. Tarleton announced Thursday that they have hired Sam Houston assistant Fuller Smith as the ninth head coach in Tarleton’s modern era of baseball.
“I believe Fuller Smith is the perfect choice to lead Tarleton Baseball, and I couldn’t be more excited to bring him to Stephenville,” Vice President of Intercollegiate Athletics Lonn Reisman said. “His resume speaks for itself, he knows what it takes to win, and he really impressed us during this process. I can’t wait to see the new heights Fuller can take this program.”
Tarleton will introduce Smith at a press conference on Friday at 11 a.m. CT on the third floor of Memorial Stadium in Stephenville, Texas. The event is open to the public and will be streamed live on WACinternational.tv.
“My family and I are honored to have the opportunity to lead the Texan Baseball program,” Smith said. “I’d like to extend my most sincere thanks to Dr. James Hurley and Lonn Reisman for this incredible opportunity. The tight-knit family atmosphere and culture they’ve created at Tarleton is something my family and I were immediately drawn to and we cannot wait to be part of.”
Smith has spent the last 10 years as an assistant coach for current WAC programs, the last four with Sam Houston who just made a trip to the NCAA regionals where they were the No. 3 seed in the Baton Rouge regional. They earned a trip to the postseason after winning the 2023 WAC Tournament.
“Fuller is the epitome of a college baseball coach,” Sam Houston baseball head coach Jay Sirianni said. “He has an elite work ethic, cares deeply for his players, and drives them to be their best. He’s been an integral part of our success and he has contributed to success everywhere he has been. Simply put, he is a winner who does it the right way. Fuller is a star in our profession and will unquestionably build a program than any university would be proud of.”
Fuller has spent time as an assistant coach at Sam Houston (2020-23), UT Arlington (2014-19), and Ole Miss (2013), as well as playing three seasons at Ole Miss where he earned his degree (2008). He also was Sam Houston’s recruiting coordinator the last four seasons and the director of baseball operations at Ole Miss in 2011-12.
Across 12 years of coaching, he’s helped develop 11 All-Americans, 40 All-Conference selections and 68 MLB Draft picks. During his coaching and playing career, he’s had five regional and three super regional appearances.
“Fuller is an unbelievable coach, he is super knowledgeable in every facet of the game, he’s a blue collar guy who’s hard-working, and is just a great human being,” East Carolina baseball head coach Cliff Godwin said. “He’s going to want his hitters to be aggressive, his pitchers to attack the strike zone, and he’s going to command his team earns it, because he earned everything he got. He’s a stud.”
Smith was a big part of the success Sam Houston had this past season. They posted a 39-25 overall record with the 39 wins being the most the program has had dating back to 2018. Five different Bearkats earned All-WAC honors.
A season ago, Smith helped lead the Bearkats to the 2022 WAC Southwest Division championship as well as assisting in the development of outfielder Carlos Contreras, the 2022 WAC Player of the Year.
In 2021, Smith’s second season on staff, the Bearkats reached the Southland Conference championship game. That season he helped develop outfielders Colton Cowser and Jack Rogers, one of the top outfield duos in the nation. Cowser was the SLC Player of the Year and a first team All-American who was later chosen as the No. 5 overall pick by the Baltimore Orioles in the 2021 MLB Draft. Rogers was a second team All-SLC honoree and was drafted in the ninth round of the 2021 MLB Draft by the Cincinnati Reds.
Prior to his tenure in Huntsville, Smith served as the recruiting coordinator and hitting/outfield coach at UT Arlington from 2014-2019.
While in Arlington, Smith helped the Mavericks produce 15 All-Sun Belt Conference student-athletes as well as 18 total student-athletes make their way to the MLB. UTA posted 30-win seasons in four of six seasons that Smith was on staff.
In 2019, Smith helped lead the Maverick offense to 41 home runs as well as having six players finish with double-digit doubles. They were ranked as high as No. 20 in the Collegiate Baseball poll.
The 2017 season saw UTA post 20 conference wins, claiming the Western Division championship in the Sun Belt. The Mavericks were ranked No. 23 in the Collegiate Baseball poll at one point, the first time in 15 years they had been ranked. Smith assisted in the development of Brady Cox who was selected by the Royals in the 2017 MLB Draft.
From 2011 to 2012 he was the director of baseball operations for the Rebels, overseeing day-to-day operations and all Nike and Easton contracts. Smith transitioned to a volunteer assistant coach role in 2013 where he assisted with hitting duties. There he helped oversee the development of MLB draftee Austin Busfield and Houston Astros’ free agent signee Tanner Mathis.
Smith originally joined the UT Arlington baseball coaching staff in 2010 as a volunteer assistant after completing his collegiate playing career as an outfielder at Ole Miss.
During his senior season with the Rebels (2008), he batted .332 (69-for-208) with 39 runs scored, 14 doubles, seven home runs and 32 RBI. He was second on the Rebels in batting and ranked among team leaders with a .500 slugging percentage and.414 on-base percentage. Smith played at Hill Junior College in 2005, starting every game in the outfield and hitting .311 with 42 RBI.
Smith graduated from Vestavia Hills High School in Vestavia, Alabama. He and his wife, Whitney, have three children, Harper (9), Cal (6), and Haven (2).