Jace LaViolette is the hero the Texas A&M baseball team needs now

When Texas A&M baseball fans got the news last week that Jace LaViolette had entered the transfer portal, it was almost more of a gut punch than the news that Jim Schlossnagle had accepted the job at Texas. Schloss's departure sparked anger; Jace's decision only sparked sadness.

That wouldn't be the case with every player. Yes, it was a bummer to lose so many key players, but Jace was different. The man was five home runs away from tying the school record after just two years on the roster, not to mention the fact that he was one of the most recognizable players on the entire team.

Jace will be missed because he was the heart and soul of this Texas A&M baseball team. He genuinely seemed to love this place as much as the fans did, and when he deleted his tweet saying the same thing and it was reported that he was in the portal, it felt devastating in a very final way. All the talk about these players being mercenaries just seemed to get a little louder.

So when news leaked that Michael Earley was coming in as coach and all the accompanying reports of expected portal rejections came pouring in, the Aggies waited with bated breath for a response from LaViolette. As it also turned out, he never really wanted to leave.

I don't think there's a single Aggie fan who can listen to this clip without getting angry. This is a guy who loves Texas A&M baseball. This is a guy who has quickly become the face of this team.

The Aggie slugger cares deeply about this team and this program. As he detailed in an interview with the Texags and as Trev Alberts admitted at Earley's welcoming ceremony, he has pushed as hard as he can for what he believes is the best choice for this team. As it turns out, he was pretty much right.

There are certain players that fans of a certain team like particularly. I'm talking about the kind of players that fans know: “That's our guy.” The guy you'll go to bat for in sports debates against critics. The guy whose jersey every fan wants.

To achieve that status, you have to have a certain level of talent compared to your peers, yes, but that's not all. When Kevin Durant came to Golden State, he was undoubtedly the best player on the team – he was voted Finals MVP twice, after all – but Warriors fans never loved him as much as they loved Steph. Curry is their man. And now LaViolette is our man.

Every great story – every great comeback – needs a hero. Someone to lead the charge against overwhelming odds. Well, given the work Earley and his colleagues have done in the portal, the Aggies will certainly have less of a chance than some other teams next season, but it's unlikely that any single team will reach the College World Series finals (let alone win). LaViolette is that man for this Aggie team.

This is sure to be a breakthrough season for the Texas A&M baseball team. Interest and investment in the program is at an all-time high. The stands at Olsen will be packed game after game, and I don't think it takes much of a forecast to predict that the loudest cheers will be when number 17 goes to bat.

Because he's our man. He's an Aggie through and through.