KU football strength coach Zac Woodfin a difference-maker at previous stops
With rising expectations for the Kansas football team, many eyes this summer will turn to Zac Woodfin, KU football's new director of strength and conditioning, who was hired in February.
Last summer there was a lot of attention to the number of Jayhawks who were running faster than ever before — around 40 players were hand-timed at 4.59 seconds or faster in the 40-yard dash — and offensive linemen who made a big jump in strength.
Woodfin, who was a prolific linebacker at UAB, has received a lot of praise during his last few stops as a strength coach. He spent the last two seasons at Southern Mississippi after coaching one season at his alma mater. At both schools, he made an immediate impact.
During his one year at UAB, before the program was disbanded (it will be reinstated this fall), Woodfin was named the Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year from FootballScoop. He helped transform a 2-10 squad into a 6-6 team that competed against some bigger schools.
“You can really tell how much bigger that we had gotten,” former AD Brian Mackin told FootballScoop. “And really comparing ourselves to Troy (opening-weekend win), you could see the difference. We were bigger than them, and that’s not always been the case in the past.”
In previous interviews, Woodfin explained four pillars in his approach as a strength coach: mindset, movement, nutrition and recovery. He puts an emphasis on mobility and flexibility, telling the Clarion-Ledger: "You can't get stronger and more powerful if you're tight and immobile."
When Woodfin entered the Southern Miss program, players and coaches quickly credited him for their success in a 9-5 season, which included a trip to the Heart of Dallas Bowl.
"He's one of the best motivators I've ever been around," former Southern Miss quarterback and Conference USA Offensive Player of the Year Nick Mullens told the Sun Herald in December 2015.
"You've got guys that you never really would have thought they would have come as far as they've come this year,” Mullens added. “Now the whole team is excited to work out, excited to make each other better and work as hard as we've ever worked. That's what coach Woodfin does, motivates and makes everybody around him better.”
Woodfin even picked up a lot of attention during a practice in his first few weeks at UAB. As a column from the Clarion-Ledger explains, Woodfin looked over when players were running stairs and saw an opportunity to help another person in the program.
Tim Alexander is an honorary member of UAB’s football program. He has his own locker and wears the No. 87 jersey at every practice and game.
Alexander, who was paralyzed in a 2006 car accident, was watching his teammates climb the steps during an offseason workout. Woodfin, who spent two years as an assistant strength coach with the Green Bay Packers prior to joining the staff at UAB, said he saw the look in Alexander's eyes and didn't hesitate.
"I didn't even have time to think about it, really," Woodfin said. "I ran over and asked him if he wanted to go to the top."
Woodfin put Alexander on his back and carried him up the long flight of steps before players saw what was happening and helped both of them to the top.
"Zac is a guy who really knows how to put his stamp on a program," KU head coach David Beaty said in a press release when Woodfin was hired. "He has a disciplined method of running his strength and conditioning program, yet knows how to make it fun for his players.”