Tennessee is close to finalizing the hiring of a new strength and conditioning coach, and that new coach is expected to be Rock Gullickson of the Los Angeles Rams, according to reports from 247Sports, SEC Country and others.
Gullickson has been around football for several decades and has most recently been with the Rams organization in the NFL for the last seven years. According to his bio on the Rams’ website, Gullickson “headed up a dramatic reconstruction of the weight room and shifted the program emphasis to training for power and explosiveness.”
Before joining the Rams in 2009, Gullickson had a similar position with the Green Bay Packers from 2006-08 where he was awarded the NFL Strength Coach of the Year in 2007.
Gullickson has been in the NFL since 2000, taking over as the New Orleans Saints’ strength and conditioning coach at the time. Before that, Gullickson spent two years in the college ranks, coaching for Rutgers (1990-92), Texas (1993-97) and Louisville (1998-99).
Butch Jones also has a tie to Gullickson from his time at Rutgers. Jones was a graduate assistant at Rutgers while Gullickson was also there, and Jim Guarantano, the father of current Vols quarterback Jarrett Guarantano, was on the roster while Gullickson was at Rutgers.
Tennessee’s strength and conditioning program came under fire this season when Dave Lawson’s duties shifted and the program was handled by an interim coach, Michael Szerszen, and seemed to suffer this season. Tennessee sustained an inordinate amount of injuries this season and didn’t have as physical of practices throughout the year.
Gullickson’s hire has not been made official as of yet, but an announcement is expected soon. Butch Jones indicated on Tuesday evening that the Vols were “very, very close” to filling the position, which is one of the five strength and conditioning coaches the Vols are permitted to have on staff.