GAINESVILLE, Fla. — In Dan Mullen’s first news conference as Florida’s new football coach in late November, he pledged that the Gators’ offseason strength and conditioning program would be something the players “have never even experienced in their life before.”
Mullen’s former Mississippi State players later offered more perspective on what was to come for the Gators.
“If I was going to talk to the University of Florida team, I would apologize in advance for how hard these next three months are going to be,” former Bulldogs quarterback Tyson Lee said in December.
Former Mississippi State wide receiver Chad Bumphis, meanwhile, recalled that the team’s Valentine’s Day workout “was the worst one we ever did.”
Well, Valentine’s Day was earlier this week, and right on cue the Florida players took to Twitter to react to the experience.
Junior running back Lamical Perine tweeted that new Gators strength coach Nick Savage, who followed Mullen from Mississippi State, “pushed me to limits I never thought I could reach.”
Redshirt freshman quarterback Jake Allen commented, “Never worked that hard in my life.”
@CoachSavage got that animal out of me today pushed me to limits I never thought I could reach ….
— La’Mical Perine (@LP_deucedeuce) February 16, 2018
Never worked that hard in my life.. We’re gonna be alright. https://t.co/hXzpKIISh3
— Jake Allen (@JakeAllen_14) February 16, 2018
Yo I am DEAD @CoachSavage
— HITMAN 11k (@gloryboy_Sean) February 16, 2018
@CoachSavage You got me today.. I give it to you, you’re about that LIFE ✊🏾
— Emory Jones (@eXjones6) February 16, 2018
— Quincy Lenton (@QuincyLenton01) February 16, 2018
And an earlier tweet from January:
Gain 5 pounds of muscle and we only a week in @CoachSavage program 💯🏋️♀️💪🏾
— Rayshad Jackson (@SpaceGhost_11) January 20, 2018
“Nick does an awesome job,” wide receivers coach Billy Gonzales said earlier this week of Savage. “The relationships, there’s so much more that goes into it as a strength coach because they’re going to spend more time with the players than we do. Just building those relationships to make sure that they’re learning how to eat right, to take care of their body the right way, learning how to be a leader, learning how to work, learning how not to give in. I think those are the things, the backbone of winning games, you can’t win games if you’re not going to compete. You can’t win games if you’re going to give in. You can’t win games if you’re going to quit. …
“We always use a term with the Navy SEALs and kind of what they do, Coach Mullen talks about that as well, when they go through ‘Hell Week’ it’s to try to separate but try to break the barriers where you’ve been before, push your body beyond those extremes and being able to take you to a new height. And I think that’s kind of what our strength program is going to be.”
Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin, who worked with Mullen at Mississippi State, said in December that he believes the offseason strength and conditioning program was the foundation for the transformation that program underwent during Mullen’s nine seasons in Starkville, Miss.
Savage, 28, became Mullen’s strength coach in December 2015, carrying on the standard set by his predecessors in Mullen’s vision.
“I think that when you look at the success we had at Mississippi State last year, it was a huge relationship to what he had done in that program,” said new Florida defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, who spent last season at Mississippi State. “I think that you can say right now, it’s probably the most critical phase, right now we’re in our strength phase. And I think being in that strength phase, conditioning phase, for this upcoming season, is a critical component of us being successful.”