Mississippi State once again has a full baseball staff as head coach John Cohen has hired Jake Wells, the university announced Monday.
Wells joins the Bulldog family after spending the past two seasons as the head coach for the Marion Military Institute in Marion, Ala. The lessons learned while helping rebuild baseball for Marion's program gives the youthful Wells the experience he needs to take the next step in his career.
"It's something I'm ready to try and do after five great years at Marion,” said the 29-year-old Wells. “It's a big step up, don't get wrong, but it's something that I'll continue to work hard for because being at an elite level and top program is not the goal for any coach. It's about being a productive member of this staff every day that I work at MSU. It's about being blessed with the opportunity to do something great here."
Cohen saw Wells as a natural fit early on in the search process after developing a relationship with the young head coach during State’s developmental camps.
"He is a guy that we've known from being an instructor at our offseason camps,” said Cohen. “When we saw him work with the catchers in our camps, I was immediately impressed with the instruction being given to those young players. He is somebody that knows the game has been waiting for his opportunity to shine.”
When Wells arrives on campus, he’ll find a familiar face in Luis Pollorena, who played under Wells during his season at Marion. In fact, Wells credits Pollorena with helping lay the foundation for a solid program.
"We were able to turn nothing into something that is turning some heads in our league right now because it was about promising kids that we were going to teach them baseball at a higher level but also give them a sense that we cared about them personally,” said Wells. “It's really important kids get a sense that this coach cares about me, my family and my life beyond the park. The difference now is in the SEC everybody can play – everybody.
“Luis Pollorena is one of the greatest athletes and more importantly greatest kids we've ever produced at Marion, but it's people, not players but people, like Pollorena that sets apart just good SEC teams from great SEC teams.”
As for coaching, Wells will have a primary role of working with the captains behind the plate, catchers.
"Well, that's my spot," Wells said. "That's the position that I was able to play for several years and even a couple after I got out of college. I was a really good catch-and-throw guy and not much in terms of hitting to be honest. What sets apart guys like (Mitch) Slauter is the mental side of the game because he knows the pitchers and has a deep knowledge of the game right now. What I want to do is continue a tradition of being elite in the mental side of the game at that position.”
While Wells will not play a role in off-campus recruiting, he will without question play a significant role in the impression players and recruits have about the MSU program.
"He has the youthful exuberance that we were looking for and is somebody our players will relate to and want to work hard for everyday,” said Cohen.