Evan, start off by telling us a little about your background and how you got to where you are now.
I received my undergraduate degree from Frostburg State University in 2002 in Health Fitness.  I wasn’t sure what I
wanted to do with my degree and then, during my junior year, I was working on a project and I came across an article about strength and conditioning coaches at the collegiate level.  From that moment forward I knew what I wanted to do and put all my energy into becoming a Division I head strength and conditioning coach.  My career path has been:
 
Graduate Assistant Strength Coach at the University of Kentucky (Aug. 2002-Nov. 2004)

Head Strength Coach at Davidson College (Nov. 2004-January 2006)

Associate Director of Strength & Conditioning at the University of Utah (Jan. 2006-Aug. 2009)
  
Head Strength & Conditioning Coach at Utah State University (Aug. 2009-present)
Give us a brief overview of your training philosophy.
I use a conjugate periodization system that incorporates all methods of training/body development: max effort, sub-max effort, repetition effort, dynamic effort, flexibility/mobility, and prehab exercises.  I want my training program to prepare the athletes for competition, but not be over complicated or so strenuous that it breaks them down for the main training focus, which is sport improvement and competition.  
 
When you got to Utah State, you took over a program that was heavily Olympic weightlifting based. Talk about some of the challenges you faced in implementing your program with athletes who, for the
most part, only knew of one way to train.

Taking over a program that was a different philosophy than mine was a challenge, but no more than any new head strength coach faces.  It was important to me to tell the athletes what we were doing and why, teach the techniques of the main exercises being used, establish the standards for accountability and work ethic that I wanted in the program, and finally, and most importantly, show the athletes that I cared, knew what I was talking about, and that my program could help them achieve their overall goals.  

The transition was easier than most because the head football coach supported me, we retained 3/5th’s of the previous strength staff, and technique and accountability in training were already focuses with the previous staff. 

What sold the program to the players was the performance testing improvements the first winter offseason I was there.  In talking to a group of our core players, they said they felt strong, fast, and fresh.  In reality, the performance jumps had to do with their work ethic and a new training stimulus from a different philosophy.  My
ultimate goal is to have my athletes feel fresh and make sure the program isn’t holding them back from improving their sport specific skills. 
 
It’s an exciting time to be at Utah State right now. You guys have a new logo, new weight room coming next year, and the football team went to its first bowl game since 1997 this past season. Talk about that a bit. 
The two best things about being at Utah Stateright now are that the athletes changed the culture and there is still motivation out there to reach higher goals and expectations.  We strive every day to be one of the top teams in the country when it comes to work ethic and accountability.
 
What advice would you give to coaches that are in the same situation you were at Davidson, with
lots of athletes, a small staff, and limited facilities?

Davidson was great for me.  I had tons of opportunities to advance my programming ideas, improve my
communication with athletes and coaches, and think outside the box. 

The best advice I can give someone else in that situation is make sure you still have love and respect for the field, realize every day isn’t going to be perfect, and enjoy the time you have with the athletes.  
 
Who are some of your biggest influences? In terms of people you’ve worked with or things you’ve
read.

My biggest influences in the field are Joe Defranco, Martin Rooney, Buddy Morris, Mel Siff, Vladimir Zatsiorsky, Yuri Verkhoshansky, and all the coaches I have worked for and with throughout my career.

What are the biggest mistakes you see athletes make with their training?  What advice do you have for young athletes?
Young athletes progress to advanced techniques too fast and they specialize in a sport way too soon. 

Start with the basics- Push-ups, inverted rows, chin-ups or chin progressions, dips, bodyweight to weighted squats, bodyweight to weighted lunges (various), glute ham raises, glute ham bridges, and various ab/low back work.  Progress these slowly over time and perform each exercise through a full range of motion.  
 
Create a body that is balanced from head to toe and front to back.  Have a professional suggest or program exercises that address your personal weaknesses and help prevent common injuries in your sport.  I would also say get involved in as many sports/activities as you can to improve coordination and movement skills.  Make training fun and enjoy yourself!
 
What are some of your benchmarks for speed, strength, and power tests?
For our football players:
 
Strength- Squat variation: 2-2.5+ times bodyweight
                 
Bench: 125 lbs. + over bodyweight
 
Power-  Skill: Vert- 32" +, Broad- 9’6” +
               
Bigs: Vert- 28" +, Broad- 8’5” +
 
Speed/Speed endurance-  We haven’t timed all players in any drills for a while.  If they can play, they can play.  If you want something to shoot for look at NFL combine position averages.  
  
How much do you individualize your programs and how do you go about it?
With football, I assign 6-8 players per group to each of our assistants.  Everyone is on the same base program, which focuses on improving our indicator lifts and bringing up general team weaknesses, but the coach of each group is responsible for identifying individual weaknesses and assigning post work based on what they see.  With a team as big as football, I think an approach like this is essential, as it would be very hard for me to watch all 30-40 kids we have in each group closely enough to identify these things and individualize their programs on my own.


 
 


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