Gators switch to intense workouts


Published: Thursday, February 23, 2012 at 4:30 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, February 23, 2012 at 4:30 p.m.

Jeff Dillman faced a ticklish transition when he replaced the popular Mickey Marotti as Florida's strength and conditioning coordinator in January. At the same time he needed to seek some form of acceptance from the players who were so close to Marotti, he was killing them in the weight room.

Apparently, that conflicting combination has worked out fine.

During a media tour of the UF weight room Thursday, senior middle linebacker Jon Bostic was asked if there was any resistance from the players when Dillman took over.

“No. We were very receptive of him,” Bostic said. “A lot of the guys were looking to see who was going to be the new strength coach (after Marotti left to join Urban Meyer at Ohio State). No one was expecting him at all.”

It was a potentially tough transition for the players, too, because Dillman and Marotti are pretty much polar opposites as strength coaches go.

Marotti is relatively quiet and low key. Dillman is an emotional, high-energy guy who has a tendency to get loud and get in your face. He has a Will Muschamp stare that is even more menacing than Muschamp's.

Marotti was ordered by Meyer to make the Gators the fastest team in America. Muschamp would like Dillman to make them the strongest and toughest.

Marotti believes in a more traditional style of lifting. With Dillman, it's Olympic-style — lots of power, explosive lifts with heavy weights.

“We're an Olympic-based program,” Dillman said. “I don't know exactly what Coach Mickey did. I've never had a chance to see his workouts in person. He did a great job. He's a great strength coach.

“I'm more Olympic-based — more things that are functional to the sport that I feel have helped me in the past develop explosive, more powerful athletes. This is a philosophy that has worked for me. Mickey has a philosophy that's worked for him.”

There's been a major shift in the weight room — and the Gators appear to have moved with it smoothly.

“There has been no resistance at all,” Dillman said. “Kids want to be coached. Everybody wants to be coached. There's an old coaching philosophy out there that says kids want to know how much you care before they want to know how much you know.

“They know we care about them. They know we're going to keep it real with them. You know, there are no issues at all. You want someone to be honest with you. You don't want anyone to sugarcoat it.

“That's our philosophy here. Coach the kids, coach the kids. They want to know you care about them. If you put your hand on them and coach them, they know you care.”

Bostic and senior outside linebacker Lerentee McCray said the players have quickly embraced the new Olympic style of lifting.

“Everybody likes it,” Bostic said. “It's kind of new to me. Some players did it in high school. I never did. I never really took the time to do it. Coach Dillman has been with me every day, one-on-one trying to get that down with me. I've pretty much picked up everything.”

McCray said he can feel a difference already.

“He's made it a great transition,” McCray said. “(The Olympic-style lifting) definitely makes us feel more explosive. It definitely gives us a more fiery edge.”

It's a different style of lifting. And a different style of coach driving the Gators in the weight room.

Like all strength coaches, Dillman is demanding and will push the players to the point of exhaustion. And he does it in great detail and with great emotion.

Does his push to the point the players hate him?

“You know what, they hate you,” he said. “They're letting you know they hate you during training. But you know what, at the end of the day they come up and thank you.

“They're going to hate you for coaching them hard. If they're doing it wrong and you tell them, ‘Do it again, do it again, do it again,' they're going to get frustrated and mad. But sooner or later they're not going to get frustrated anymore.

“It's all about coaching. They don't like you during training, but when they're done with the training, they realize they got better.”

Muschamp said one of the main reasons he hired Dillman away from the IMG Academy in Bradenton is because they share the same basic philosophy in terms of coaching and motivating.

Dillman said he's seen the similarities.

“When you train with high intensity and high energy at all times, you're going to play that way,” said Dillman, sounding very much like Muschamp. “That's what we expect out of our athletes who come in here, to work all the time, because hard work beats talent when talent isn't working.

“And the most important part of the puzzle is you've got to do the little things right. That's not all about the weight room, it's about everything. Take care of the little things and everything else will take care of itself.”

Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or andreur@gvillesun.com. Also check out Andreu's blog at Gatorsports.com.

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