When most people look at him, the broad shoulders, bald head and well-trimmed beard and mustache immediately stand out. He’s a guy people immediately look at and think ‘drill sergeant.’ His name is Jeff Dillman.
Florida coach Will Muschamp is hoping he’s much more than a ball of muscle with a commanding voice, though. The Gators hired Dillman as their new strength and conditioning coordinator on Tuesday, luring him away from the IMG Performance Institute.
“The strength coach is such an important part of your program,’’ Muschamp said in a press release. “Jeff has a championship pedigree. He’s been a part of several championship teams and that’s what we’re trying to be here at the University of Florida. He is my voice in the weight room when the coaches can’t have contact with the players.”
“It’s very important for someone to share the same philosophies and approach as I do on how to build a championship program.”
Dillman has spent the past two years working as the head physical conditioning coach at IPI, a program that helps train dozens of college and pro athletes each year.
He is partly responsible for putting together and coaching IPI’s NFL Combine training program, something that undoubtedly led the Florida coach to hire him.
“What I like about Coach Muschamp is his intensity and his fire and his directness,’’ Dillman said in the release. “That’s the same way I coach. I believe in coaching kids. I don’t believe in crossing your arms and putting your hands in your pockets. I’m a big, big believer in if you coach them hard in the weight room, and you coach them hard in running, when they get out on that field, it’s easy for them.
“It’s all about eliminating that gray area.’’
Muschamp has placed a premium on having NFL experience on his coaching staff as a way of selling Florida’s ability to get its players to the next level. With Dillman’s experience training players for the combine, Muschamp now has another support staff member who is a great selling point for potential recruits.
Dillman and Muschamp worked together previously while the Florida coach was the defensive coordinator at LSU. Dillman worked as an assistant strength and conditioning coach at LSU from 2003-06 under Tommy Moffitt, who is widely recognized as one of the nation’s best strength coaches.
The two were together for two years in Baton Rouge before Muschamp left for the Miami Dolphins with Nick Saban in 2005.
Dillman took the head strength and conditioning job at Appalachian State, his alma mater, after leaving LSU.
Under his direction, the Appalachian State football program rose to new heights, winning two FCS national championships and springing one of the biggest upsets in college football history by knocking off then-No. 5 Michigan in Ann Arbor in 2007.
He has worked with an impressive list of athletes, including 2010 Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton and 2006 SEC Basketball Player of the Year Glen Davis.
As the new strength and conditioning coordinator at Florida, Dillman will be tasked with helping turn around a Florida program that has lost 11 games the past two seasons after winning two national titles in the three years prior.
He won’t have to travel far to get to Gainesville after spending the past two years in Bradenton. Dillman now fills one of the most important roles on the staff. He is essentially in charge of the team in the offseason, when coaches aren’t allowed to interact much with players.
The Bradenton resident has Muschamp’s full confidence, after the coach spent the better part of the past month researching and interviewing prospective candidates.
The position came open at Florida when Mickey Marotti left the program to follow former Gators coach Urban Meyer to Ohio State. Marotti had been the head of strength and conditioning since Meyer’s arrival in 2005, staying on under Muschamp after Meyer resigned following the 2010 season.
“We need to get stronger,” Muschamp said after losing Marotti. “We need to get physically and more mentally tough and it starts there in the weight room. That’s a critical hire for me.”
Here is a video of Dillman:
(Warning – Video contains the “D” word several times.)