HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - "I look at Brian Dozier and the person that he is," said Southern Miss head baseball coach Scott Berry, who helped recruit Dozier to the Golden Eagles in 2005. "You can flip him a Rubik's cube and he can solve it in two minutes or less. He can pick up piano and play it by ear. There's not a whole lot that the guy can't do."
Brian Dozier's pretty good at baseball, too.
Coming off a season in which he set an American League record for home runs hit by a second baseman in a single season (42), the Minnesota Twin and Southern Miss alum has spent the off-season back home in Hattiesburg, occasionally getting some work in with the Golden Eagles.
"There's nothing like it is here," Dozier said, a 2009 graduate of Southern Miss. "Southern Miss has always been family-oriented. They're kind of like a blue-collar university so to speak, which hits home for me and that's what I love so much about it."
Drafted by the Minnesota Twins in 2009, Dozier enjoyed a four-year Southern Miss career.
Under former coach Corky Palmer, the Golden Eagles advanced to the 2009 College World Series. Dozier missed much of the second-half of the season after breaking his collarbone in mid-April but, he would return to pinch hit against Texas in the College World Series.
"I've probably never coached a guy with the confidence level (Dozier) has," Palmer said. "We used to joke, he was a good high school quarterback. He believed he could have went out and played quarterback at Southern (Miss). He couldn't, but he believed it."
Before he was a 2015 MLB All-star with the Twins, and before he racked up the second-most hits in Southern Miss history, Brian Dozier was in Fulton playing baseball for the Itawamba Agricultural High School Indians. He was just a small-town kid with big-time dreams of playing in the Major Leagues.
"I really didn't have a plan B to be honest with you," Dozier said. "Obviously, I went to college and got my degree and stuff. But I always had the dream and aspiration of being a major-league baseball player, dating back to when I was a little kid."
"I think his freshman year he set a school record for the most errors," Dozier's high school baseball coach Brian Long said.
That can be hard to believe from Dozier who was a 2015 finalist for the MLB's Gold Glove Award. But he would go to work, eventually being named All-State twice and batting over .500 his senior year at Itawamba AHS.
"(His) father, Mike, had put a cage up," Long said. "I've heard Mike say he's had to make (Dozier and his brother, Clay) get out of the cage. Their hands would be bleeding from hitting extra."
"There is a lot of hard work that's involved, day in and day out," Dozier said. "One of the most humbling moments of my career was my rookie year when you think everything's going all right and then, all of a sudden, you get sent back down to triple-A. You've got to learn how to deal with failure in this game and this profession and never stop learning."
Dozier continues to learn with every swing of the bat and now he has become a teacher. Dozier's shown what matters is not where you come from, but where you plan on going.
"Knowing that he's from Southern Miss and he played on this same field that we're playing on, it just gives you hope," Southern Miss senior infielder Tracy Hadley said.
"He's a legend here for sure," Itawamaba AHS senior catcher Drew Hill said. "He made it big, big as it can get. Anybody can do what he did. If you set your standards high enough and work hard enough, you can accomplish anything you want to."