RHS’ Devin Buckhalter signs for baseball at Calhoun
Anyone who has spent time around the Russellville High School baseball program over the past few successful seasons has probably heard the word “uncommon” used by head coach Chris Heaps.
In this time of many student-athletes choosing to specialize in one sport, Russellville’s Devin Buckhalter truly fits the description of uncommon. Buckhalter is in some ways, a throwback. He has been a four-sport standout on the baseball, football, basketball and track teams at RHS. Throw in plenty of time in the weight room and the classroom, and it’s hard to find a break in the schedule of this Golden Tiger.
May 8 at the Russellville Field House, Buckhalter sat down with coaches and his family to sign a baseball scholarship with Calhoun Community College. The new signee of the Warhawks said getting the chance to focus on one sport in college will make a big difference. “I think it will make a 100 percent difference,” Buckhalter said. “I’ll be a whole lot better player than I am now, especially going to play for great coaches like Coach (Ben) Hawkins and Coach (Cody) Gaskill.”
Buckhalter, a starting outfielder for the Russellville varsity team, said he knows his high school experience can translate to success at the next level. “Most players don’t have one ring, let alone go to the state championship. I know what it takes to get there, and so many players don’t. I really think I can lead them to get that way.”
Heaps said he feels Buckhalter’s best days on the baseball diamond are still ahead of him, even after the Golden Tiger racked up a total of 90 hits over the past two seasons. “When I talked to Coach Gaskill, I said, ‘This guy’s best days haven’t even happened yet; they haven’t even come close,’” Heaps said.
The Calhoun team is set to make progress in a positive direction under the leadership of a coaching staff that is eager to put its stamp on the program.
“This is going to be the first year he’s ever had baseball fully to himself, and that’s the most exciting part,” said Hawkins, Calhoun assistant coach and recruiting coordinator. “We’re excited to have him. He’s a great kid from a great family, and when you get a kid from Russellville, Cullman, Hartselle, Florence or any of those programs that win, you’re doing something right.”
Buckhalter was named to the Alabama North-South All-Star football team and said he still plans to play in the game this July in Montgomery.
Patrick Odom, his coach on the basketball court at RHS, is also proud. “The kids that get to enjoy these moments are the kids that have great character,” Odom said. “Devin has played for me for four years and as great of an athlete as he is for every program that we have here, he’s an even better kid. I love him, and he knows that, and we’re very proud of him. It’s fun to see him have the opportunity to play at the next level.”
Buckhalter’s parents, Dana and Tony, have seen hundreds games in many different sports, with their son starring on the field and his father being a coach at RHS.
“Having him around and coaching him – I’ve enjoyed it,” Tony shared. “Of course, with him being mine, I’m a little bit harder on him than anybody else. At the end of the day, we can sit back and laugh about some of those situations we had on the field, because there’s plenty.”
“I’m really excited about him signing with a junior college,” Dana added. “I feel like academic-wise, he really needs that transition period before he is at a major college or university. She also said some time to transition to playing only baseball would be beneficial. “We’re really excited to see what this next chapter is going to bring.”