Vukovits looks forward to future golf seasons

Senior committed to Mississippi State last June


Photo submitted

Senior Austin Vukovits has committed to Mississippi State.

Jacob Ball, Reporter

Raise your cowbells, Bulldog fans. Mississippi State is getting a competitor.

Irish men’s golf standout and senior Austin Vukovits recently reviewed his journey throughout his high school career. Firmly positioning himself as a future star, Vukovits exploded onto the big stage as a freshman phenom, leading the team nearly to a finals bid, finishing only two shots away from the State tournament.

“Freshman year, our team was one of the best in the state,” Vukovits said. “We just underperformed and it cost us a shot at the State title, which was a disappointment.”

Despite this finish, Vukovits gained national attention, attracting schools of collegiate golf royalty. One of these schools was Vanderbilt, which currently is ranked fourth in the country. 

“A lot of kids make life changing decisions, like committing, way too early. In golf, it’s common for golfers to commit to schools freshman or even eighth grade years,” the senior said.

Vukovits, however, wanted to ensure his decision was the right one and chose to delay his college choice.

After a less than stellar sophomore campaign, he saw his recruitment stock fall, but he refused to let this deter him. The next season the Irish golf team surged to a State tournament bid, and an eventual finish at 13th, with Vukovits finishing seventh.

This surge of leadership and success pushed his recruitment upward, leaving him faced with a daunting decision between three schools: IU, Purdue and Mississippi State.

Ultimately, the promise of blue skies and Bermuda grass became the true appeal. “For me, it was important to go to a school somewhere in the South so I could golf year round,” he said, “and a lot of the northern Big 10 schools like Purdue have really nice indoor facilities, but it’s never the same as being able to play outside year round.”

Further contributing to Vukovits’ appeal was the enthusiastic and charismatic new head coach, Mr. Dusty Smith. Vukovits will get the opportunity to play under a coach who is adamant about and excited for this recruiting class, seeing as this will be the first group of commits that Coach Smith has invited to Starkville, Mississippi.

In a email, Smith wrote, “Austin is a high character young man. When you are building something special, you want those type of people in your program. The thing I love most about Austin is he is a fierce competitor in everything he does. He has the desire to win and will not stop until he achieves his goals. In college golf, you have to have this tenacity to love both the sport and the everyday grind.”

Smith knows that Vukovits’ game will transition well to the college landscape.

“From a physical standpoint, Austin is a very gifted athlete.He has speed in his golf swing, which is critical in today’s game,” Smith said, “and his athleticism shows in the way he plays the game.”

However, now that his college decision is made, Vukovits is focusing his attention on leading his team back to the State tournament. After a 13th place finish last year, the Irish men’s golf is poised for an even deeper run as the only team that earned a State tournament bid to return all five top players from last season’s state roster.

“(Senior) Danny Paris and I have already committed,” Vukovits said, “and the other guys have college talks, too, so we’re going to be pretty dangerous.”

His determination and leadership will be put to the test, but without college to worry about, Vukovits’ sights will be solely set on the State title. “We’ve got to go win it,” he said.