LEBANON, Tenn. – Former Cumberland All-American Robert Clayton is returning to his alma mater to serve as the team’s pitching coach, effective June 15, as announced this week by head coach Woody Hunt. This marks Clayton’s third stint on the coaching staff at Cumberland.
Clayton has served the last three seasons as pitching coach and assistant recruiting coordinator at Embry-Riddle University in Daytona Beach, Fla., working for another former Cumberland All-American, Randy Stegall, in ERAU’s transition to NCAA Division II. The Eagles have posted records of 28-22, 14-35 and 20-30 the last three years in the transition to D-II, playing in the ultracompetitive Sunshine State Conference as a full member in 2018.
Before his time at Embry-Riddle, the Miami, Fla., native spent one season at Tennessee Wesleyan with head coach Billy Berry, helping the Bulldogs to a 45-12 overall record as well as Appalachian Athletic Conference regular season and tournament titles.
He was a member of the Cumberland coaching staff in 2014, with the Phoenix claiming the program’s third national championship with a 49-20 overall record. Cumberland registered its sixth Mid-South Conference Tournament championship and won the NAIA Championship Opening Round in Kingsport, Tenn., that season as well en route to the national title.
He served as an assistant coach with the Leesburg Lightning in the Florida Collegiate Summer League in 2014 as well, handling pitching coach duties for the club that finished 19-19 overall.
From 2011-13 Clayton worked as an assistant coach at Texas-Pan American (now known as Texas-Rio Grande Valley) in Edinburg, Texas, serving as the pitching coach and recruiting coordinator for the Broncs. UTPA posted a 79-84 mark during his three-year tenure while playing in the Great West Athletic Conference. The Broncs team ERA dropped from 5.75 in 2011 to 4.82 the following season to 4.25 in Clayton’s final campaign on the staff.
His first collegiate coaching stint came at Cumberland from 2009-10 when he served as student assistant. The Phoenix set a program record in 2010 with 58 wins (58-9 overall) en route to claiming the NAIA national championship with a pitching staff that included Major Leaguer Aaron Wilkerson.
He previously served as a student assistant at Cumberland for the 2010 season as well as the head coach for the Wilson County Sliders 14U in 2009 and Florida Bombers 16U in Miami, Fla., in 2007, helping the Bombers to a fourth-place finish in the Mickey Mantle World Series. He was also an assistant coach and the head junior varsity coach at Friendship Christian School in Lebanon in 2009.
Clayton earned Honorable Mention All-America and All-TranSouth Conference honors in 2007 at Cumberland, posting a 12-3 mark with a 2.93 ERA in 104.1 innings of work, striking out 60 with just 16 walks in 18 appearances with eight complete games. CU advanced to the NAIA World Series that season, with Clayton taking the loss against Bellevue University in Lewiston, Idaho.
He was a Preseason All-America selection before the 2008 season and registered a 7-4 record with a 4.63 ERA in 79.2 innings that year with 72 strikeouts and only 14 walks in 14 appearances with four complete games.
Clayton transferred to Cumberland from Broward College in Davie, Fla. He garnered All-State accolades as a sophomore at Broward and helped the Seahawks reached the NJCAA World Series in 2006. He also played one season at Miami Dade College after graduating from Miami Killian High School in 2002.
He received his bachelor’s in Fitness and Wellness from Cumberland in 2010. Clayton is married to the former Hilary Bauer from Belvidere, Tenn. She played basketball at Cumberland from 2005-08 and was a member of three teams that reached the NAIA National Tournament, including the national runner-up squad in 2007. The couple has one daughter, Ruby.