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April 13, 2012

Holsopple getting fast results

There is a coach in the football program you will usually hear about during the winter and summer. Scott Holsopple won't wear a headset. If you catch the beginning of a practice you can see him take charge leading the players through warm-ups.

Holsopple is a coach you won't see in the limelight, but he's a major part of the program Charlie Weis is building. He's not involved in the X's on O's but something just as important.

He is the director of the Jayhawks strength and conditioning program.

Not always the tough guy

People always think of the strength and conditioning coach as a tough and mean guy. He's supposed to be the person up yelling, screaming, and challenging the players. Holsopple can be that way but he also takes different approaches.

Before he can get the most out of the players he tries to understand and learn who they are.

"The closer you get to someone the harder you can push them," Holsopple said. "When I go to work every day I know I have pushed the people I care the most about the hardest. That makes me feel good because I care about my staff and these guys."

Learning from the best

If Holsopple throws you a set of boxing gloves along with a challenge, back away. At Penn State he earned All-American honors as a boxer. After college he got his start in strength and conditioning under Mickey Marotti, considered one of the best in the business.

Holsopple completed an internship with Marotti at Notre Dame after graduating from Penn State. During that time he also served as the strength and conditioning coach for Ken Chertow at his Olympian Wrestling Camp.

Marotti has been the strength and conditioning coordinator at some of the nation's top football programs including Notre Dame, Florida, and Ohio State. Marotti told Jayhawk Slant he gave Holsopple more responsible than any other assistant in his career.

"He gave me a tremendous amount of knowledge," Holsopple said of Marotti. "He's the best in the business at what he does. He's been doing it for 24 years so you learn from his experience. He's a great mentor and I have been fortunate to have a lot of great ones."

From basketball to football

Kansas fans know how important a strength and conditioning program can be for basketball. That's where Holsopple got his full-time start. Indiana head coach Tom Crean hired Holsopple when he was at Marquette. They had great success during that time. Holsopple oversaw the strength program that included players such as Dwayne Wade.

During that time Crean called Holsopple the MVP of their success.

After that he took over the same position at Kentucky for Tubby Smith.

"There is a difference training-wise," he said between basketball and football. "You still have to have the same mind set. All coaches want their guys bigger, stronger, faster and tougher. They want to have that team attitude and that stays the same. There is a difference in conditioning and movements."

Easy decision to join Weis

Once Weis got the job at Kansas he had an easy route to get more details on Holsopple. All he had to do was talk to the players at Florida.

"I could not say enough good things about what the players all said to me, when I asked them whether or not Scott would be a good guy for us (here at Kansas)," Weis said.

Since the two knew each other from their time at Florida it was an easy call for Weis. Once the two talked about joining together at Kansas it didn't take long.

Holsopple recalled once he interviewed with Weis over the phone he wanted the job.

"I saw him every day at Florida," Holsopple said. "But once everything went down about the same time coach Mick (Marrotti) left and went to Ohio State. I knew I wanted to come to work for coach Weis."

Holsopple said the players caught on quick to his program. His impact has been felt in his first three months on the job. Going into spring break Weis said the players in the program had missed less than five classes. That's an impressive number.

When players miss a class they get to spend a morning with Holsopple. Some may learn quicker than others but in the end it is a learning experience.

"Failure can be important in learning." Holsopple said. "Most people think that confrontation is bad. But in any job if you are on edge you will probably be better at it than if you're not. If you're not, you can get complacent. If you are on edge as an athlete or coach it can keep you alert. There can be a fear, a good fear, not a bad fear, that keeps driving you every morning."

Players see the difference

Toben Opurum said Holsopple and his staff have shown him new lifts he has never seen before. The offensive linemen say they are already in better shape.

"We went out and conditioned hard," said offensive lineman Dune Zlatnik. "Everybody is in better shape coming into spring ball. That has helped us this spring. We are not as tired. We don't break down mentally."

Tanner Hawkinson is one of the few players that has played for three different head coaches. He has been asked to learn different systems in his time at Kansas.

"It went real smooth and it was real structured," Hawkinson said of the off-season workouts. "Every workout they had a plan and we followed that plan. They held us really accountable. If guys were missing or guys were late they had to come in and make up the lift and a punishment run. For the most part it was just real structured and ran real smooth."

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