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Mike Zunino Wins Dick Howser Award, Becomes Florida's First Honoree

Mike Zunino came into the 2012 college baseball season as one of the nation's most highly-touted players, with about as complete a profile as any collegiate baseball player in recent memory. A strong junior season has confirmed the hype, and earned him laurels that no Florida player has ever earned before, like the 2012 Dick Howser Award, which he was awarded on Friday before the Gators begin College World Series play on Saturday.

Zunino hit .322 and slugged .678 with 19 homers and 64 RBI, despite a cool stretch against SEC pitching, and contributed as a defender (45 assists and just three errors), runner (nine stolen bases in 10 tries in 2012) and a leader: he started 64 of Florida's 65 games at catcher, and has become a trusted part of Kevin O'Sullivan's approach to pitching, doing things like calling the last few innings of Jonathon Crawford's no-hitter.

It remains to be seen whether Zunino can cap his outstanding career with a national title, which would also be Florida's first. But three short years in Gainesville have made him no worse than a part of the conversation about the greatest Gators baseball player of all time.