Jay Johnson delivered his first home run as the Tigers head coach by securing a commitment from All-American infielder Jacob Berry on Saturday evening. It was an explosive pre July 4th announcement for the LSU program as it begins a new era with one of the top players in the country transferring in from Arizona.
During his introductory press conference, Johnson talked about bringing the best players in the country to Baton Rouge and this certainly constitutes a hot start for the 44-year-old coach. Berry batted .352 with 17 home runs and 70 RBI as a freshman in the Pac-12, earning second team All-American honors and helping lead Arizona to the College World Series.
Now the Tigers will get to roll out a top four of Berry, Dylan Crews, Tre Morgan and Cade Doughty, undoubtedly one of the more lethal combinations in all of college baseball in 2022. Crews, Morgan and Berry will be the nucleus of the team moving forward with two years of eligibility left before they can turn pro.
Crews and Morgan both earned All-SEC honors but what LSU does behind its top four is what will truly indicate what kind of impact this offense can make in the SEC in 2022. The five through nine holes were inconsistent throughout the 2021 campaign.
"I was afforded an opportunity to really figure out offensive baseball and then what does your team need to do and what it's rooted in," Johnson said. "I have some very strong beliefs in terms of mechanics, in terms of vision, in terms of at-bats, in terms of what we call moving the offense, and every day of our practice sessions or I call it training sessions is geared towards players improving."
It'll be up to Johnson and his staff to develop more consistency from guys like Brody Drost and Jordan Thompson, who figure to be key components to the offense next season. LSU will no doubt continue to be under some level of roster reconstruction over the next several weeks as recruits and players on the LSU roster currently decide on their pro futures or elect to move on from the program.
The nucleus is there for a power hitting, offensively gifted group starting with those top four hitters returning.
"Ultimately I want teams to hate to play us, and I think we accomplished that the last couple offensive teams that we had, and that's what I want to do at LSU," Johnson said.