In college recruitment, Division I coaches cannot officially reach a prospectus until September 1 before the youth year. But that does not stop coaches from looking at young and upcoming talents or making contact with intermediaries.
That was the case with Jay Johnson, the former Nevada baseball coach, and McQueen High standout Robby Snelling. Johnson knew that Snelling was something special when the Reno natives were only a seventh grader. That was when Johnson first told Snelling that he was a “disgusting player” at the college level. Five years later, Snelling finally accepted it, only with a twist.
Johnson left his job in Arizona for the position at LSU in June, and despite getting one of the best jobs in college baseball, it did nothing to make Johnson less excited about Snelling, who last month verbally committed to playing. for the Tigers.
“He was the first offer I ever had,” Snelling told Nevada Sports Net. “So it was definitely super cool. My travel coach introduced me to him and said, ‘Hey, this is a guy you need to go on,’ so it was definitely super cool for me, for my coach to think so highly of me to introduce myself. for him at such a young age. That was where the relationship began. “
Snelling kept in touch with Johnson throughout his baseball career and was almost ready to commit to Arizona before the coach moved. When Johnson went to LSU, Snelling was taken back a bit.
“When I found out the news that Johnson was leaving Arizona, I was very pissed because I was pretty close to making my decision to go there,” Snelling said. “Just because the network of how football and baseball were supposed to be there and that was it was going to work very smoothly, and then Jay left. I was just like, ‘Well, it’s a bit of a bummer for me because it’s a little in the air about who the coach is going to be. ‘ And I’ve gotten really close with coach Johnson. It threw me in a way. “
Snelling, who is also a four-star football recruit as an athlete, fortunately had a baseball tournament in Louisiana and visited the LSU campus. It helped sell him on his way to the SEC.
“We went to Louisiana for the baseball tournament,” Snelling said. “I got the chance to go out and walk around campus, and it was the second day that Jay was in Louisiana. He came there and picked up his family, and his wife was looking for a house, and he was touring the field. he did some work. So we sat in the golf cart with one of the assistants and he drove us around campus. It was amazing. I love Louisiana. South, I really think it’s an area I want to be in my future, in life “Being able to go out and experience everything was super cool.”
With dozens of Power 5 offerings in both football and baseball, Snelling said it was the personal bond he shared with Johnson that ultimately led his decision to attend LSU. Snelling has known Johnson for a third of his life and felt more comfortable putting his future career in his hands.
“I really think he’s going to treat me like family more than other people,” Snelling said. “Just because we have that connection from him coaching down here, and how long our recruitment process has been together. It was funny when I told him I was engaged. He was like, ‘We meet coach Kelly, Jason Kelly, the new the pitching coach they got there, and coach Johnson approaches him after I told him everything, and he was like, ‘Man, it took me four years to get this guy to commit. And it took you a while to meet him. to commit. ‘
“So it was pretty funny. It shows a bit like how long our recruitment process has been, a serious recruitment process. And I mean, it’s definitely super cool for me to be able to tell him face to face when we were in Florida. He was down there and looked at some of the players and looked at me, and I met him the next day. “
Although LSU’s latest recruit has committed to a college program, it’s reasonable to wonder if he’s ever going to set foot in Baton Rogue, La. Snelling has played in some of the best show games in high school this summer and can be a good choice. the draft 2022 MLB. He has the opportunity to drop out of college and become a professional, even though he has not made any decisions yet. Johnson is known for being one of the best college coaches to get first-class talent to give up a professional career playing college.
“If I’m not drafted into a place that I feel would change lives and it would be a little smart to go after the draft, going to LSU is not really that far behind MLB,” Snelling said. “I get a similar experience, but one will be more of a full-time job. The other is school and work. You have to deal with it when it turns out, and we’ll probably find out in the next eight months. We’ll see what happens. “It would be great to be drafted, and I think having LSU as a backup plan is also good.”
Snelling kept hoping to attend a college that would allow him to play both baseball and football. That will not be the case at LSU, which usually has a football elite. After thinking more about it, Snelling knew that focusing on baseball was the right decision for his career.
“It was a very tough decision for me,” Snelling said. “I know that playing baseball in MLB is what I want to do. But I always had the dream of being able to run out to a big football stadium in college and have 100,000 people there. And it’s just like an experience I always have looked at, and I wanted to be a part of it. It was very difficult to relate to, ‘Probably I’m not going to do that.’
“We got to the point where you just had to put your future ahead of what you dreamed of. And it was a tough decision for me, but I think it’s a smart decision. Keeps my body healthy. And there’s one things to be quarterback or receiver and pitching, but being a linebacker and pitcher, it would be tough to heal your body after a football season and then go into a baseball season. ”
Snelling enters his senior year at McQueen High, and with that comes his last season of playing football for his father, coach Jim Snelling. Although he does not anticipate playing football in college, he can still play in the senior season for the Lancers, who also boast best ongoing recruitment Ashton Hayes, who has verbally committed to Nebraska. Johnson said he is fine with Snelling playing football in high school, but prefers to focus only on baseball in college.
“I have a lot of mixed feelings about it,” Snelling said. “It’s my last season under him. I grew up around the football field. Ever since I was born, I was up there running around and looking up to all the big middle school kids. And when I went to elementary school, I dreamed of being like “I really hope the kids look up to me and all my teammates the way I did. It’s super cool to have gone through this process with my dad.”