First time in sports

Mark Gibson

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SPORTS

FAU saw two first this year in the world of sports. Not only did FAU won its first baseball sunbelt title, but former Owl quarter back Rusty Smith was drafted and played his first pro NFL game.

Baseball team claims conference title

FAU baseball claimed claimed its first Sun Belt Conference title in 29 years after the team was founded.

Finishing their regular season 33-20 (23-9 Sun Belt), the Owls accomplished one of their most standout seasons ever.

Adding to the team’s national recognition, infielders Sean Bukovich, Raymond Church and catcher Eddie Cassidy were named to the All-Regional team — one of the highest honors for players.

Along with the players, head coach John McCormack was named Sun Belt Coach of the Year.

Since 1990, FAU baseball has seen multiple players drafted and signed to Major League Baseball, and 2010 was no disappointment.

Right-handed pitchers Mike Gipson and Ryan Burnal were selected in this year’s Major League Baseball Player Draft. Burnal was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 23rd round, while Gipson was selected in the 31st round by the New York Yankees.

“I’m happy for them,” said McCormack. “They worked their behinds off.”

Unfortunately, FAU fell to University of Florida in the championship game of the regional playoffs. However, the Owls finished with 37 victories overall, which is their most wins since 2005.

“I think that we lived up to our expectations,” said McCormack. “I think we’re in good shape for next year and 2012 too.”

Rusty Smith gets drafted to the NFL

It was questionable whether 2010 would be FAU’s year to finally have a football player drafted into the NFL. The coaches were confident that it would be quarterback Rusty Smith, despite his injuries and inactivity that season.

On April 22, while sitting in his Jacksonville home watching the NFL draft with his family, he received a phone call from a strange area code. Smith’s heart began to race.

“About two minutes before it came across the TV screen that the Titans were on the clock I got a phone call from Tennessee and they asked me if I would like to be a Titan,” said Smith. “I said I’d love to be a Titan.”

Smith is the first FAU player to be drafted and signed by an NFL team. Originally positioned as a third-string quarterback for the Titans, Smith has moved into the starting position.

On Nov. 21, Smith played in his first pro game. In an away game against the Washington Redskins, Smith was put in the game mid third quarter. On his first play, he threw a 50-plus-yard bomb downfield to wide receiver Randy Moss.

The spectacular play was unfortunately negated by an offensive pass interference call.