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NCAA: Wes Johnson is Georgia’s New Head Coach

 Leif Skodnick  |    Jun 7th, 2023 4:12pm EDT

Wes Johnson, formerly the pitching coach for the Minnesota Twins, will be the head baseball coach at the University of Georgia for the 2024 season. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)

By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network

The University of Georgia hired current Louisiana State University pitching coach Wes Johnson on Monday to be their head coach for the 2024 season. 

Johnson will arrive in Athens, Georgia, to take the helm of the Bulldogs’ program once LSU’s season is finished. The Tigers are hosting a Super Regional this weekend in Baton Rouge against the No. 12-ranked Kentucky Wildcats (40-19), with the first game on Saturday at 3 p.m. streaming on ESPN+.

“I am looking forward to leading the University of Georgia baseball program and want to thank President Jere Morehead and athletic director Josh Brooks for their support and this tremendous opportunity at one of the premier institutions in the SEC,” Johnson said in a statement on the Georgia athletics website. “Being the head coach at Georgia is a dream come true. I can’t wait to meet and start working with our amazing student-athletes and developing our plan to compete for SEC and National Championships.”

Johnson replaces Scott Stricklin, who was fired on May 26 after a 27-29 season that saw the Bulldogs go 11-19 in Southeastern Conference play.

A Sherwood, Arkansas native, Johnson spent time with the Minnesota Twins as their pitching coach from 2019 to 2022. He helped the Twins win the American League Central in his first two seasons.

During the 2020 season, Johnson helped the Twins pitching staff rank fourth in the Major Leagues in both ERA and WHIP in his second season with the organization.

Johnson helped major league starting pitcher Kenta Maeda finish second for the American League Cy Young Award during the 2020 season, when he posted a 2.70 ERA and a 6-1 record.

In his three seasons as the pitching coach with University of Central Arkansas in 2008, 2010, and 2011, Johnson helped the pitching staff set NCAA Division I school records, leading in ERA, WHIP, strikeouts, opponent batting average and fewest walks allowed.

During the 2009 season, Johnson was the pitching coach with Southern Arkansas University, where the program went 52-11 and was ranked No. 1 in the NCAA Division II rankings for 20 weeks. Pitcher Hayden Simpson became the 16th overall pick in the 2010 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft after he left Southern Arkansas.

During his four seasons as Dallas Baptist University’s pitching coach from 2012 to 2015, Johnson had 14 pitchers drafted by Major League Baseball organizations, and his pitching staff set single season records for ERA, strikeouts, and saves. In the 2015 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft, Dallas Baptist University had five pitchers chosen in the first 12 rounds.

Johnson was the pitching coach at the University of Arkansas in 2017 and 2018 before coaching at the Major League level. He helped the Razorbacks go 48-21 during the 2018 season and reach the Division I College World Series Championship in Omaha, losing to Oregon State University in the best-of-three final series. Razorbacks starting pitcher Blaine Knight was the top pitcher on the 2018 staff going 14-0 with a 2.80 ERA and was selected in the third round of the 2018 Major League Baseball amateur draft by the Baltimore Orioles.

In his one season as the pitching coach at LSU, Johnson has helped junior starter Paul Skenes become the National Pitcher of the Year by multiple outlets after going 11-2 with a 1.90 ERA and striking 179 batters. Skenes is projected as a first round selection in the Major League Baseball Draft regardless of whether he decides to sign a professional contract or return to Baton Rouge for his senior season.