MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WREG) — Kerrick Jackson was formally introduced as the next head baseball coach for the University of Memphis Wednesday.

Memphis administration said it was his passion for the game and for the community of Memphis quickly made them realize that he was the right guy for the job.

Jackson’s hiring was historic. He became emotional when he recalled the moment that it finally hit him that he is this program’s first black head coach.

“The fact that we’re in 2022 still talking about firsts and I am that first, it means a lot,” Jackson said. “I plan to do everything in my power to make sure that we stop talking about firsts.”

Jackson is now the 17th head coach in Tigers baseball history. He said being a black coach in a predominantly white sport does put a little pressure on him to be successful.

“There’s more pressure on me to succeed because I don’t want it to hurt the next person,” Jackson said. “I’m confident in myself. I know what I’m capable of doing. So I’m not worried about it. I’m not going to feel any pressure. But is there going to be pressure? Yes, there’s going to be some just because if I don’t get it right, then the statement is going to be, ‘see, they’re not ready. No, they’re not capable of doing this outside of this realm, in this space.'”

After helping to transform the baseball program at Southern University, Jackson was the president of the MLB Draft League, where the league’s sole purpose was going out and finding overlooked prospects and showcasing their talents.

He plans to bring that same mentality and passion to the U of M.

“When you look at the community here in Memphis, when you look at the baseball talent that is in this area, it is a baseball rich area and environment. And my goal is to make sure that the kids in the city of Memphis and surrounding areas stay here.”

Jackson met with the Tigers for the first time last week. While many on the team are planning to stay on board, there were some that opted to enter the transfer portal.

“I was able to watch [the Tigers] throughout the course of the year and towards the end of the year, they really started to pick up a little bit. They started to bond and play together a lot more. There’s a lot more life in the dugout. They were really, really scrappy and grinding some games out. And my biggest message to them was anybody that decides to stay, you’re now my guys. You’ll never hear me go out in the media and say, well, once we get our guys in here — nope. Anybody that puts this jersey on while I’m here, you become one of our guys.”

“We’re going to win with the guys that we have here and then add some other pieces and make it a little bit better.”

Jackson has big goals for the Tigers.

He plans on this being a top 50 program year in and year out with the ultimate goal every year being a trip to Omaha.