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July 10, 2013

Trent Wilkins pursues career in major league baseball

DUNCAN — Leading up to his high school graduation in 2008, former Duncan football and baseball standout Trent Wilkins was heavily recruited around the state in both sports.

The choice was his: would Wilkins dedicate the next four years to the gridiron or continue his journey on the base paths?

As it turns out, he would have the opportunity to do both.

After playing in 37 games and recording 49 career tackles at the Division I level as a safety with the Tulsa Hurricane, Wilkins still had eligibility to play baseball in 2012 and 2013 because he redshirted his freshman year. He jumped at the chance to get back on the diamond, heading to Northeastern State University to play baseball for two more seasons.

“For me, life on the gridiron is the funnest thing on the planet. There’s nothing quite like Saturdays on the field, playing in your home state against teams like Oklahoma and Oklahoma State,” Wilkins said. “But baseball I was maybe a little better at possibly. I always knew I wanted to give it another shot.”

While working on his master’s degree in Communication Law, Wilkins returned to the game he hadn’t played in four years, something that didn’t surprise him.

“I had always told myself I should give baseball another chance if football didn’t take me all the way,” Wilkins said. “It didn’t and I had missed baseball since high school.”

Upon restoring his spot in center field, Wilkins had no trouble admitting that the transition wasn’t easy.

The numbers say otherwise.

Wilkins burst onto the scene, hitting .327 with 30 runs batted in, four home runs and seven stolen bases out of nine attempts.

“I hadn’t seen some of the good players we were up against because high school was the last time I played,” Wilkins said. “It was a little tough facing the good breaking pitches, some of the curveballs and sliders, but after a few games, all comes back to you.”

Trent stayed in the spotlight year round for the Demons, earning All-Area and All-State honors in baseball and leading Duncan as its starting quarterback in his sophomore, junior and senior seasons,.

“We kind of put Duncan football back on the map. We had struggled a bit when I was in middle school,” Wilkins said. “Baseball had so many good memories because we went to state three out of the four years I was there. Nothing but good memories of Duncan.”

Looking back on his collegiate football career, Wilkins still fondly remember intercepting a pass from OU’s Landry Jones, now an NFL quarterback with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and helping Tulsa beat Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana.

Wilkins’ return to baseball may have paved the way for his future, which could include playing at the professional level. He had had conversations with the Tampa Bay Rays and Atlanta Braves, who asked Wilkins to play for the Fort Worth cats in the Independent League for three weeks this month as an extended tryout.

It’s no secret Wilkins’ ability has taken him all over, but there is still something that draws him to the town he grew up in.

“Duncan, it’s a decent sized town but you can’t go anywhere that you know or that your parents don't know,” Wilkins said. “You go to Walmart or the gas station and there are always friendly faces happy to see you back in town.”


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