July 16, 2012 4:15:22 PM
STARKVILLE - The Mississippi State University baseball program has filled its coaching staff for the 2013 season.
The Bulldogs hired former Marion (Ala.) Military Institute coach Jake Wells to replace the spot vacated by Lane Burroughs after he left Starkville to become the next head coach at Northwestern (La.) State University.
"I really found a place to take that next step where it's about more than baseball and it's about character and makeup of kids in your program," Wells said. "That was our philosophy at Marion and we turned literally from nothing to something people can be proud of very quickly."
Wells, 29, had been the coach at junior college in Alabama the last two seasons as the school reinstituted its baseball program in 2007 and had developed a relationship with the current staff invited special instructor to the MSU offseason camp in previous season.
"What he's accomplished at Marion is amazing in terms of recruiting and the Division 1 players they've produced in the last couple of years," MSU head coach John Cohen said Monday after the paperwork was filed.
Wells was an assistant at Marion when they went 37-19 and had one of their best players sign with MSU in left-handed pitcher Luis Pollorena. Pollorena would soon become a critical part of the Bulldogs pitching staff in 2011 and has produced 11 wins and nine starts in 38 appearances the last two seasons. When under the coaching of Wells at Marion, Pollorena was honored as the 2010 Alabama Community College Conference Player of the Year while compiling an 11-2 pitching mark with a 1.77 earned run average.
"Luis Pollorena is one of the greatest athletes & more importantly greatest kids we've ever produced at Marion," Wells said. "People, not players but people, like Pollorena are what sets apart just good SEC teams from great SEC teams."
According to NCAA rules, Wells can't leave campus to recruit but according to Cohen will be essentially during the process once recruits are on official campus visits in Starkville. Wells' primary duties will be working to develop depth at catcher with MSU having a lot of youth and inexperience behind projected starter Mitch Slauter at the position.
"When we saw him work with the catchers in our camps, I was immediately impressed with the instruction being given to those young players," Cohen said. "He is somebody that knows the game has been waiting for his opportunity to shine."
Wells will also be involved in the Bulldogs hitting instruction but Cohen insists that assignment will be a group effort between himself, assistant coach Nick Mingione and Wells.
"That's what makes us different than say a professional team because different sets of kids need different things and so we have to split up our hitters on what they're working on daily," Cohen said. "What we do as a staff is we're going over video of a player together so we're all seeing the same thing."
Before getting into college coaching, Wells was a standout player at Blinn (Texas) Junior College while also in Alabama at Wallace Community College and the University of Montevallo. After leaving college, Wells played two seasons of Independent League professional baseball with the Laredo Broncos in Texas.
"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," Cohen said. "He's a young coach on the rise in this business and that's what we wanted."
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