KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — More than 25 years ago, a friendship was struck when Butch Jones wanted to see how much weight he could throw around.
Rock Gullickson was there to help.
The two immediately became buddies as young assistants at Rutgers, and now they’ll work hand-in-hand making sure Tennessee’s team is as big and bad as possible in 2017.
“I’ve known Butch Jones since 1990,” said Gullickson, who was formally introduced as the Vols new strength and conditioning director Tuesday.
“He wanted to bench press a lot of weight, so we started training together. We became close friends. I was a part of him and Barbara’s wedding. Through the years, we’ve watched Butch grow. Central Michigan, Cincinnati and now here at Tennessee.
“He’s a good person and a great friend. He’s done a lot of good things here.”
Gullickson comes to Tennessee after 17 years in the NFL, including eight seasons with the Rams. He’s tasked with directing a program that’s been shorthanded and mishandled since Dave Lawson abruptly left the team last April.
He believes he has “a good plan” and is eager to begin building relationships with Tennessee’s players. Gullickson has 22 years experience in college, including stints as the strength coach at Rutgers (1990-92), Texas (1993-97) and Louisville (1998-99).
“I’ve known Rock for more than 20 years and know what he stands for as a coach and person,” Jones said in a statement.
“He fits the culture we are continuing to build at UT, and he has a comprehensive plan that I truly believe our players will greatly benefit from.
“He’s passionate about his work, a tireless worker, detail-oriented, and has a tremendous track record of developing and motivating players to reach their maximum potential.”
Gullickson agreed to a two-year deal worth $375,000 annually. He’s impressed with Tennessee’s facilities and ready to make a difference in the program.
“I told Butch there’s two reasons I’m here,” Gullickson said.
“I want to help him achieve his goals. The University of Tennessee football’s goals and help these kids win a championship.”
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