Langford runnin’ down a dream

UF's Wyatt Langford, a Trenton native, is projected to go in the top five selections in the Major League Baseball Draft.
UF's Wyatt Langford, a Trenton native, is projected to go in the top five selections in the Major League Baseball Draft.
Photo by Chloe Hyde-UAA Communications

Former Trenton baseball player Jacob Guthrie has known Wyatt Langford since elementary school.

They started playing ball together around eight years of age and became best friends.

The pair shared a common dream.

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“It was always the biggest dream to get drafted and play professional baseball,” Guthrie said. “Even when we were that young it was a goal that we both had.”

On Sunday night at 7 p.m., Langford is hoping to hear his name called early. He projects as a top five pick in the Major League Baseball Draft.

Guthrie, who signed with Santa Fe College out of high school and will be playing baseball at Florida Tech this fall, was just an eighth-grader when Trenton High School won a state baseball title in 2017. Langford was a freshman on that team.

“It was really, really special,” Guthrie said. “Just being able to play with him, as two of the younger guys on the team, it was just a lot of fun to see him work when he was that young, and I was young too. It was a lot of fun to have someone like that, and to work with and to play baseball with.”

Langford, who put Trenton on the map, was third on the team in hitting that year with a .391 average and was also was third with a .486 OBP. His 34 runs scored were tied for the team lead, and he was second on the team with eight doubles.

Guthrie said the following year, when Langford was a sophomore, is when he felt like Langford could realize his dream of playing professional baseball.

“Just watching him work and stay hungry, because after a state championship you can kind of get into a lull and be like, ‘alright, we did it once and we can do it again,’ but Wyatt didn’t really have that attitude,” Guthrie said. “Nothing really changed and he continued to work and continued to develop, and it just really took off from there.”

UF baseball Wyatt Langford.
Courtesy of UAA Trenton native Wyatt Langford helped the Gators to the 2023 College World Series Championship Final.

His numbers were among the team leaders as an eighth grader too. In 2016, Langford was second on the team in batting (.359) and OBP (.481). He also finished tied for the home run lead with two.

He won a state title as an eighth grader with the football team, which finished 14-0 in 2015, and was an FHSAA Class 1A All-State Second Team linebacker as a freshman in 2016.

There’s no question Langford was a star on the rise.

Langford, who was the 2019 Perfect Game National Home Run Derby champion, signed to play baseball with the University of Florida, becoming the first Tiger to do so.

The former Trenton standout was the Class of 2020’s No. 144 overall prospect according to Perfect Game.

“I saw this in Wyatt while he was here at Trenton,” said Scott Hall, his former baseball coach at Trenton. “He wanted to be something special. A lot of kids have the potential, but they don’t have the want to. They don’t have the drive, they don’t respect the game, and they think they are bigger than the game. Not Wyatt Langford. Yes, he is physically gifted and talented, but he has a work ethic and understanding that he must continue to work and get better.”

His senior year at Trenton was cut short due to COVID-19 in 2020 and he only played four games his freshman year at UF, all as a pinch-hitter, but Langford stayed the course.

“It was definitely hard because I missed the following spring because of COVID and I also missed that summer so I went a really long time without playing baseball, honestly,” Langford said during an interview with the MLB Network on June 30. “It was tough just watching but it kind of just taught me to work harder, and to just keep doing what I was doing, and I knew my time would come and I’d get my opportunities.”

His breakout season with the Gators came as a sophomore when started all 66 games in left field and led UF with a .355 batting average, a .447 on base percentage, and a .719 slugging percentage. He also was tops in hits (91), runs (73), RBI (63) triples (three) and total bases (184).

He tied Matt LaPorta’s single-season program home run record with 26, which also led the Southeastern Conference, in his final at-bat of the 2022 season.

Among his accolades in 2022 was being named a D1 Baseball First Team All-American, a Baseball American Second Team All-American, and an ABCA/Rawlings Second Team All-American.

That led to him being named to the 2022 USA Baseball College National Team roster. He was one of 26 non-draft-eligible players to make the team last July.

Wyatt Langford was named to the 2022 USA Baseball College National Team in the summer of 2022.
Courtesy of UAA Communications Wyatt Langford was named to the 2022 USA Baseball College National Team in the summer of 2022.

His stock continued to rise in 2023 after helping lead the Gators to a national runner-up finish.

Langford, who has five-tool potential, led UF with a .373 batting average, a .498 OB%, and a .784 SLG%. In addition, Langford had 52 extra-base hits (28 doubles, three triples, and 21 home runs), while driving in 57 runs for the Gators.

But beyond baseball, Langford’s character will make him a great catch at the next level.

“He’s probably one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met,” Guthrie said. “A lot of times in the baseball world, you’ve got a lot of guys who are high profile guys and when you talk to them they just kind of come off as they know that they’re good, and I’ve been saying this about Wyatt the past five years, if you talk to Wyatt you would never know. He’s just a regular guy that grew up in Trenton and was raised right. He’s just a great guy.”

Guthrie will be in Trenton with around 30-35 close friends and family at the home of former Trenton baseball and softball coach Todd Bryant, who was named runner-up for the Florida Dairy Farmers overall coach of the year in 2021 after leading the Tigers to their second straight state softball title.

Bryant’s daughter, Hallie, is engaged to Wyatt.

“That’s been going on for as long as I can remember, back to middle school” Guthrie said. “Hallie and her family are really close with my family so it’s always been like, everyone has known about it. It’s that typical small-town high school sweetheart thing that’s obviously still working.”

Bryant said that Wyatt and Hallie went to the eighth-grade prom together, they’ve gone to school since kindergarten and actually played t-ball together.

“Wyatt is a really good person, he was always polite when he came to my house, he always came in and hugged my wife and shook my hand, he was always cordial, never one of those kids who drove up and kind of hung out outside, he always came in and spent time with us,” Bryant said. “I was always impressed with Wyatt’s work ethic and his manners.”

Bryant said you can still see that today.

“If you went to one of the Florida baseball games, Wyatt was normally one of the first guys out of the dugout when the game was over and he was almost always the last guy to leave,” Bryant said. “He signed autographs as long as little kids were out there wanting his autograph.”

But early on, he wasn’t sure if Hallie and Langford would have a future together.

“I didn’t really feel that way until they got to be seniors and they both had committed to where they were going to play and they were still very committed to each other,” Bryant said. “When he first showed up as an eighth grader I told myself, ‘hey, don’t get too attached to this kid because he won’t be around long’ and he just kept coming and kept coming so about when they were seniors I thought this may work out.”

It’s been a long-distance relationship during college, seeing each other every chance that they got, and it’s worked out.

Wyatt Langford crushes a pitch from LSU starter Thatcher Hurd for a two-run homer in the first inning of Monday night's Game 3 of the College World Series Championship Final.
Photo by Maddie Washburn/UAA Communications Wyatt Langford crushes a pitch from LSU starter Thatcher Hurd for a two-run homer in the first inning of Game 3 of the College World Series Championship Final.

“They’re very good for each other,” said Bryant.

Hallie, who signed with the University of South Florida out of high school, has entered the transfer portal even though she got plenty of playing time at USF.

She recently visited Mercer University and the University of North Florida, where her dad played college ball, and will be deciding in the next couple of days where she will attend.

Her dad said she will play at least one year and maybe two, and with Langford playing professional baseball, that means the long-distance relationship will continue, at least for now.

“That’s what they’ve been doing now for three years so they’ll keep doing it,” Bryant said. “That’s what plane tickets are made for.”

Hallie and Wyatt are planning to get married in December.

They will find out on Sunday where that leads them to next.

“It’s going to be a really special event,” said Guthrie, an avid Braves fan who noted he might have to buy a new jersey since Atlanta doesn’t have one of the top five picks. “To have everybody that’s close to Wyatt, and Wyatt has been around and impacted, it’s going to be a lot of fun.

“I’m just so happy for him, proud of him. Just to see all of the work that he has put in and the stuff that really no one sees, like the late nights in the cages, late nights and early mornings in the weight room, to see all of it kind of come together, it’s really kind of awesome to see.”

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