Body of work: Florida strength coach is key to turnaround – STLtoday.com
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The most important guy on Florida’s sideline Saturday wasn’t coach Dan Mullen or quarterback Feleipe Franks.
He didn’t wear a headset or have a play-calling sheet. He didn’t touch the football or get in the huddle.
He was hardly even noticeable at the team’s annual spring game at the Swamp. Yet his role the last three months and the next three months is more critical to the program’s planned turnaround than anyone else.
Strength and conditioning coordinator Nick Savage is working behind the scenes to return the Gators to form.
The early results?
Mullen said players averaged a 3.5 percent loss in body fat during the first two months Savage has been there, eye-popping numbers that prove what Florida had been doing wrong and what Savage is doing right.
“That’s pretty good in two months,” Mullen said. “He could market that and get his own infomercial and make a ton of money off it if you advertise that, right?”
Savage officially unmasked what people close to the program, including former coach Jim McElwain, suspected was a problem in recent years. Former strength coach Mike Kent, who followed McElwain from Colorado State, was seemingly in over his head.
Even McElwain openly questioned Kent’s efforts after Michigan manhandled the Gators in the 2017 season opener in Arlington, Texas.
His tactics came under more scrutiny when athletic director Scott Stricklin pinpointed Florida’s strength and conditioning program as one deficiency during McElwain’s tenure.
“It’s the backbone,” Stricklin said. “Any successful program has a really strong strength and conditioning program that builds accountability, and programs that aren’t as successful usually are lacking in that area.”