The new baseball coach at Georgia Regents University comes to the school at a changing time – for the school and himself.
Jason Eller, the soon-to-be father of twins, was introduced at a Monday press conference on campus. He and his wife, Amy, are scheduled to have their first children – a boy and a girl – in September. By then, he’ll be under way with fall practice for a program seeking to reverse its recent fortunes.
Eller, who spent the previous 11 years on Georgia’s coaching staff, replaces Chris Cooper, who went 64-126 during his four-year tenure. In the spring, the Jaguars posted the worst season in Peach Belt Conference history (10-38 overall, 3-25 conference). The team ended the season with a 21-game losing streak – the longest in league history.
“I think he’s great. I’m expecting a lot out of him,” sophomore infielder Hunter Boose said of his new coach. “He said last year we lacked hope. He plans to bring new hope and energy.”
Eller, the first full-time baseball coach at the school, said he’s only planning to add eight to 10 players for next season, stating the team already has plenty of quality players. He said he’ll focus on pitching to help the Jaguars, who last recorded a winning season in 2008, improve upon their league-worst 5.90 ERA last season. Also, the team finished last in the league in hitting (.256).
“I think we can clean up a lot of that based on what scouts have told me,” Eller said. “The talent level is OK.”
The 40-year-old Eller, a Kennesaw, Ga., native, is a known recruiter throughout the Southeast. He will have an added recruiting asset – athletic director Clint Bryant mentioned the school is undergoing plans for a $250 million capital gifts campaign, which will funnel $25 million to the athletics program for an outdoor complex at Christenberry Fieldhouse. The new complex will include upgraded fields for baseball, softball, track and field, and soccer – Bryant mentioned the school adding women’s soccer in the future. He added he’ll know more details about a timeline within the next six months.
Eller said the new complex will help him attract baseball talent to Augusta.
“Georgia and Georgia Tech are going to get their players, but we can compete with Kennesaw State and Georgia Southern,” Eller said. “It’s a new university. It’s a new team. It’s new uniforms. It’s a new era.”