Isaac Trujillo knew Jeremy McMillan was the right man for the job.
Trujillo had just been hired as the new athletic trainer for LSU baseball but the Tigers still needed a new strength and conditioning coach. And in his eyes, there was nobody better for the post than McMillan.
His new boss quickly agreed.
"I made it aware to (coach Jay Johnson) that that was a top priority," Trujillo said.
LSU had already hired Nate Yeskie?as its new pitching coach after he?had worked with Trujillo at Texas A&M. And McMillan — having been with the Aggies for the past 12 years?— was the third coach that had helped develop Texas A&M's pitching staff with Yeskie and Trujillo over the past two years.
"I've always viewed (McMillan) as one of the best strength coaches in all of baseball," Johnson said. "Really didn't think it was a realistic deal (to bring him to LSU) because he'd been at Texas A&M for a long time."
To Johnson's surprise and delight, McMillan eventually made the move with Trujillo to LSU.?
Season one has yet to even start. But because of their growing familiarity with each other and the system they have perfected, McMillan and Trujillo already believe that they (including Yeskie) are working more effectively together now than ever before.
"When an athlete walks in the door, you are running a full-blown assessment on that athlete," McMillan said. "... How do they move? What is their movement strategy? What are they biased towards? What are their measurements? What are we getting in terms of our assessment pieces using our technology?
"The thing is that we basically just continued that process when we got here (at LSU). We have just expanded it at a higher level."
How they communicate
Before coming to Texas A&M, Trujillo and Yeskie had also worked together at Arizona under Johnson. But once Trujillo began conversing with McMillan at Texas A&M, he realized that he was the missing piece to what he and Yeskie were trying to build in Tucson.
"We definitely had a strength coach, but he wasn't as involved as Coach (McMillan)," Trujillo said. "So I think (McMillan) was a huge upgrade for us in terms of how we could capture the total student-athlete (experience) moving from Arizona to A&M."
The chemistry Trujillo, Yeskie and McMillan have formed has a lot to do with the depth and effectiveness in which they communicate.
They understand each others fields of expertise, beyond just a surface level of understanding. It allows them to converse about what adjustments they need to make with a certain player at a much deeper level.
"I can listen to (Trujillo) talk to a doctor or I can listen to him speak to an athlete or go through an assessment and I know exactly what's going on in-depth," McMillan said. "When I go watch a bullpen or I go watch the hitters, I understand what all of our coaches are trying to get across to the athlete. I see the verbiage they're using, the tools they're using. So it starts to formulate and help me communicate with them in terms of what they're trying to do."
The trio is also around each other all of the time.
McMillan might be the strength and conditioning coach, but he's not the only member of the staff watching players go through their work in his weight room.
If the pitchers are throwing with Yeskie, there's a better chance than not McMillan or Trujillo will also be there to watch.
"I think, across the board, all of the coaches here at LSU are trying to do that. Like everybody's in and out of everybody's office, everybody's at weightlifting sessions, at hitting sessions, at pitching sessions. You have multiple eyes," McMillan said.
McMillan insists that their level of collaboration never spills into them trying to do each other's jobs. They might be familiar with one another's responsibilities, but they still stick to their own jobs and aren't afraid to ask each other questions about how they're going about their respective professions.
That lack of restriction, where coaches can roam in and out of each other's work areas and learn about how they do their jobs is something McMillan had to quickly embrace at the beginning of his 19-year career as a strength and conditioning coach.
"Just being siloed to my area, and them being siloed to (there area), the communication lines could be strong there," McMillan said. "But it wouldn't be a very deep conversation because they have no clue what's going on in my area other than what I tell them and vice versa."
Putting it all in motion
How Trujillo, Yeskie and McMillan communicate with each other can't be effective unless they all understand where each of their athletes are physically.
Knowing how their athletes move and recognizing their physical limitations, among other similar criteria, is information they have to know before devising a cohesive three-legged plan of improvement — strength and conditioning, athletic training and pitching — for a player.?
"Isaac and I are looking at it from a biomechanical side, from a movement quality side. Coach Yeskie, he's looking at it more from a pitching side of things like 'Hey, this athlete is not able to get into their front hip,' " McMillan said. "So Isaac and I are looking at that directly and say, 'OK, what is our hip internal rotation on our stride leg hip? Do we feel like we have range of motion? OK, we do have range of motion. So there's a motor control issue, or there's a movement quality issue. For some reason, they're not getting into that position, because their movement strategy is not allowing them to get into it.'
"So those kinds of things start to drive deeper conversations in terms of the way we address the athletes."
They also have to know what the best way to communicate their ideas and strategies to each athlete is, altering the language they use for each player to explain concepts they want to work on with them.
"If you have a good system, but you cannot funnel it to the athlete clearly ... it doesn't matter how good your system is if the athlete can't pick up on it," McMillan said.
What that looks like for each coach depends on the athlete they're conversing with. They're obviously each responsible for creating a strong relationship with their players, but the manner in which they do it, in part, depends on their personal styles
Trujillo, Yeskie and McMillan work well together as a cohesive unit but do not share one personality.
"Their ability as people is tremendous, and our kids really are drawn to those guys and their personalities," Yeskie said. "They do it differently, but I think that that's what kind of makes it fun is you get a little salty and a little sweet in there."
The three coaches' system of development and communication has continued to evolve, but it's already starting to bear fruit for LSU.
For example, sophomore left-handed pitcher Griffin Herring has been working on his clawback?— improving the stability of his front leg when it lands on the mound after he strides to throw a pitch.
So before Herring goes to practice, he will stretch out his hips with Trujillo in the trainer's room and perform isometric exercises with McMillan in the weight room, becoming more physically capable of improving his clawback once he starts throwing with Yeskie during practice.
And he can do it all without having to communicate with Trujillo, Yeskie or McMillan separately. They all know what he's trying to accomplish and how that translates to each of their fields of expertise.
Three coaches working as one.
"It's just one cohesive unit," Herring said. "Makes it a lot easier for us as players."?