Earley’s assistants shed light on the new direction of the Texas A&M baseball team

Since being named the 21st head coach of Texas A&M baseball, Michael Earley has completed his coaching staff with the addition of Will Fox, Caleb Longley and Jason Kelly. The three Aggie assistants were guests on TexAgs Radio on Wednesday to discuss the future of the program.

Key points from the interview with Will Fox

  • I learned a lot. I played at McNeese and made that smooth transition into coaching. I worked with the pitchers for a while, so I had to learn about myself and more about coaching. Later, I had a player development and analysis role here and I worked under some great coaches. The best I’ve worked with over the last three years has been Michael Earley. I’ve learned a lot, but I still have a lot to learn.
  • It was an instant yes when Earley told me about the job. As for my family, I grew up 45 minutes away in Montgomery, so they were excited. My wife’s family is from College Station, so they were excited too. Not only to keep me, but to keep the grandkids.
  • This week was my first recruiting event as a full-time coach. Last year I worked a lot with the infielders, but now I’m full-time. I’m going to keep up my routine with Earley, Caleb Longley and the hitters, so we’re going to be a united front. On the recruiting side, I’m excited to get out there and find new Aggies.
  • Becoming a recruiter will be a smooth transition. I know what a good player looks like, and I know what a player Earley likes looks like. I think it will be a good transition.
  • There are a few things I’m going to change once we get into the fall. Everything else is going to be pick-and-play, based on what I’ve learned as a player and a coach. There’s not going to be a set routine that we do, but it’s going to be a little bit of everything. We’re going to focus on creating the routine. The harder things are going to come from some of their athleticism, but we’re going to focus on creating the routine.
  • This coaching staff had a really good reputation with those guys in the portal. We worked with them and we know them. We had a good feeling that they would come back.
  • The postseason success speaks volumes Kaeden Kent did behind the scenes. He has so much fighting spirit and he will do whatever it takes to get it done. He is also very skilled and tough. He is also a very good player. A guy like Gavin Grahovac coming back is also important, and that confirms another dirty spot.
  • I think Grahovac is a freak. He’s a really good player and he’s super well-equipped. He came in as a utility guy, but he’s never really played third base. For him to go to work, put his nose in the dirt and say, “This is my spot…” I think the sky’s the limit for that guy.
  • Kent is a captain. Like I said, he’s tough and he’s skilled. When those two things come together, you see what you saw in the postseason. Things like this happen. Kent could be a regular shortstop in the SEC, and we could go to Omaha with him as shortstop. I hope so.
  • We haven’t talked about running the offense. I’m sure Earley will run the offense, but I’ll be the third base coach out of the dugout. It’s a feel deal. Having been in the middle of the field my entire career, it’ll be a pretty easy transition.
  • I knew Longley a little bit before this. He’s always been a hard worker. Jason Kelly came in about a week ago, so I’m looking forward to talking everything through with him. It’ll be a little slower, but it’ll never stop.
  • This transition has been really fun. Getting to know the staff and visiting with the players has been a whirlwind. We’re already a united front, so it’s been good. Jace Hutchins has really been the reason the pitching staff has stayed together through this whole ordeal. Jack Mahala has been so important to our pitching staff, our hitters, our scouting reports for everything. He’s really good at what he does.
  • Jason Hutchins is on it every day. He gets to work before anyone else. He goes to work for you and he lets you know. I know it costs a lot to set up the camps and he had to do it himself and run it. That guy does it all.
  • Recruiting was fun, but I’m ready to get this team on campus, have our first team meeting, and set the tone for the program. There will be a lot of happy guests. There will also be a hungry team. They’ll be raring to go with the end goal in mind.

Key Points from the Interview with Caleb Longley

  • I come from a small town between Chatanooga and Knoxville, Tennessee. I played at East Tennessee State. I didn’t get good until my senior year and I made some changes. That led me to my coaching path. I got hired by Michael Earley at Arizona State. That was my first job. I didn’t know Earley or anyone at Arizona State. I was a mid-major player who wanted to get into coaching. I was the first one to send my resume in and he hired me when I was 23 to help him do that.
  • There was no mutual connection with Earley at that time. I had a resume ready, sent it to him, answered a few questions and got on the phone with him and head coach Tracy Smith.
  • When I walked into Tempe, Arizona State was the No. 3 team in the country, and we had Spencer Torkelson and some other really great players. It was a really good situation.
  • I was a young guy coming into Arizona State, but Earley had no ego. He looked for that one percent to make a player better. We learned from each other and it was a good fit from the beginning.
  • I went to Texas when Earley went to A&M. In 2021, Arizona State was No. 2 at the Austin Regional and Troy Tulowitzki was able to get me to Texas. He did his own research at the time and he’s the one who got me to Texas.
  • Sometimes I take a step back and breathe when it comes to this coaching rise. My wife was a softball player in college so she understands the grind and the game.
  • I know Will Fox a little bit from conventions and here and there. Players love him and he’s one of the best infielders in the country. I look forward to working with him more on a day-to-day basis.
  • Neither Earley nor I are wedded to an individual hitting philosophy. It’s about each player doing his best. We’ve always been competitive and we’ve always compared notes and checked. I’d look at his box scores and feel good knowing we scored 12, only to see him score 14 that same night.
  • Our plate discipline plan wasn’t as good as Earley’s. We hit a lot of homers last year, but so did A&M. There are teams that don’t strike out, but they don’t hit homers like A&M did last year. You want guys who can hit with a low chase rate. What Earley has done here is great.
  • The walk is a weapon. The strikeout can be just another out if you hit a double or a home run to score a run on a walk.
  • I steal a lot of coaching philosophy from other people. The plans are so individual for each player. It’s not the same thought or drill for every guy. We want every guy to be as efficient as possible. Ultimately, the way everyone gets there is different, and it’s about coaching each individual guy. We have a lot of good ones.
  • I’ve watched a lot of them Jace LaViolette and Grahovac and those guys. I watched a lot of the pitchers when I was doing my scouting. I’m looking forward to working with those guys and working on getting them that one percent better.
  • Moving to College Station has been great. My wife and I look at houses and she sends me about 10 a day. The community is great and I love it. Everywhere we go, it’s all Aggies. I couldn’t be happier to be here.
  • Jason Kelly is a baseball guy. He loves the game and knows the game. When I was a kid at Arizona State, he was on the staff. I would bombard him with questions and he never made me feel like I was annoying him. He helped me learn a lot. He is a players’ coach and everyone wants to play hard for him.
  • I didn’t have to go to Blue Bell Park during the regional. I couldn’t hear myself think. The 12th Man effect is real. It makes it hard to pitch, hit and defend as a visitor.

Key points from the interview with Jason Kelly

  • The last two weeks have been a whirlwind. When I was in Washington — a place I love and where I cut my teeth at the Power 5 level — I knew at some point I wanted to go back to the SEC. When everything started to fall apart and it got really serious, I gathered my family and within minutes they were inside.
  • When Michael Earley got the job, the real question came. “Are you in?” I said, “Yes!” Earley called back an hour later and said he had the job. I thought, “Here we go.” I came in on Friday night and we’ve been working hard ever since.
  • It was a combination of wanting to come back to the SEC and being with Earley. You want to work with people you want to be around every day. Sometimes it’s hard to find that situation. He was one of three or four people who, if they got a job, would have to think seriously about my future.
  • Earley treated the players the way I wanted them to be treated, so we just clicked. When everything happened, I knew I could come to a place where I had a chance to win a national championship and be myself. It’s good to be able to be with Earley, Caleb Longley, Will Fox, Jason Hutchins and everybody else.
  • I don’t want our goals to look much different than they did last year at Texas A&M. They were one of the best teams in the country in ERA, strikeouts, and strikeouts. I want to follow that blueprint. We’re going to hold runners, establish our position, and throw a ton of strikes. We’re going to compete with the fastball, find that pitch, and then have an elite secondary pitch. It’s really exciting to see the development of these guys week to week.
  • It’s about data in the bullpen. I’m a hands-on guy, so I’m going to go back there with them. I’m going to be there making adjustments and helping them get into the right frame of mind. We have an incredible analytics department, so those guys are going to continue to do what they’re doing and report the data back to me. That’s where I’m going to step in. Working with those guys is a good culmination of people.
  • I’ve done a little bit of digging into it, but mostly with the guys coming in. I’ve talked to almost everybody and I’ve gotten a good analysis from the coaching staff. Everybody is incredibly talented. Getting those guys focused on the right thing, building a bullpen and putting guys in the right positions to get people out, that’s what we’re going to do.
  • You’ve seen the SEC go out west and do a great job recruiting. I’ve coached on the west coast for the last couple of years and you’ve seen them take the best players. You look at Grahovac in particular. I think my relationships on the west coast will definitely help, and Earley’s relationships on the west coast will help.
  • Earley is a magician. It’s hard to say what it is because when you see him, it’s like what a hitting coach does. You hear him talk and you see his game plan, everything is at an elite level. His guys trust him, so his relationship with them is what separates him from everybody else.
  • Preparing for the A&M lineup is tough because you know they’re not going to hunt, so you’ve got to throw strikes. Then you’ve got to throw strikes against guys like LaViolette and Grahovac, and you know how that goes.
  • I watched the Oregon game and I was transfixed. You know Oregon because we’ve played them twice, so you start thinking about matchups. You’re a little bit of a coach. That stadium was amazing! I was talking to Earley about it after the game and he said, “I’ve never heard it like that. The place has been out of control for the last month.” That’s probably the most exciting thing I’m looking forward to.
  • If we could start practicing today, I would. I want to get started. Excited is an understatement. Things are moving so fast. I don’t even have a computer yet. I just can’t wait to see how this place works.

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