Head strength coach Dave Lawson might be the most important person in the program that is rarely heard from. The Vols made some huge gains in size, strength and speed over the summer and RTI recently caught up with Lawson to get his perspective on the behind-the-scenes work in the weight room.
Q: Coach Jones talked a lot about having 12 600-pound squatters this year. How much is that a point of pride for the strength program?
A: I just think it shows just the work ethic of our kids. It’s a challenge to be able to move that much weight. I think it just shows the effort they put in to what we’re asking them to do. Our staff wants to get this program back to the standard that’s expected and I think that shows that the kids are showing the effort to do that.
Q: How many players would you like to have squatting 600+ pounds in the future?
A: I just think it depends. I think (12) is a good number to start with and we just want to always improve. It’s not always about the weight being pushed. To me, it’s about the work ethic on a day-to-day basis.
Q: Who were the 600-pound squatters?
A: I won’t be able to think of all of them….Owen Williams, Mack Crowder, that’s just a few of them off the top of my head.
A: I just think it’s communication between our sports science department and our staff and our athletic training and strength programs. It’s not getting too big too quick. It’s a combination of him being educated about what to eat, how to eat and when to do it. I think it’s a combination of that plus our strength program and how we obviously emphasize strength and how we do the programming, but also implementing mobility and flexibility.
Q: We heard a lot about the squat numbers. Were there any other areas that really impressed you over the offseason?
A: I just think overall, I’m not into numbers – I mean you want numbers because they give you a measuring stick, but I just think the overall strength the kids have gained, the ways their bodies have changed. We did the before and after pictures and when the kids see that they get really excited. They wear me out wanting to get them sent to them and I’m not a great computer guy, so it takes me a little while. But just seeing the overall change in their bodies and the strength changes.
Q: Talk about your relationship with Coach Jones. He’s said so many great things about you. Why do you work so well together?
A: I just enjoy working with him. We’ve worked together now for eight years and I just think our demeanors mesh well and I think he never really has to tell me what he wants. I know what the job entails, I know what level he wants because we have good communication. I enjoy working with him because he’s very supportive. Obviously if he doesn’t support me I can’t get my job done. But because of his support and the assistant coaches’, that allows us as a strength staff to get our job done.
Q: Did anybody really stand out to you over the summer in the weight room?
A: They all did. It’s hard to just pinpoint a kid because every kid – all their bodies changed. They either got bigger, lost body fat….it’s not one big lump sum, it’s individually based. The ones that needed to gain, gained, the ones that needed to lose body fat, lost it and the ones that needed to get faster got faster.
Q: Do you see a faster team overall?
A: I think so. I think if you’re doing the things we do in our program in terms of hip mobility and flexibility and you couple that with strength training and speed training, you can tell – I can see it in practice.
Q: What were your impressions of the newcomers over the summer?
A: They came in and did a very good job right at the beginning. We throw them right in and kind of speed up the learning process and they jumped right in and did a great job.