Ausmus was on fast track to UT

New strength coach emphasizes speed

As Tennessee's new director of strength and conditioning, Aaron Ausmus is all about speed and movement. Every day before Tennessee football players so much as pick up a weight, they've already been through a series of drills designed to help them get from one point to the next a little faster than their competition.

While Ausmus, 34, preaches speed, he practices patience.

And when it comes to the University of Tennessee, his patience was rewarded. Twice, in fact.

"This is home to me," Ausmus said. "I've always been passionate about the orange. To be back now, it's unbelievable."

Ausmus's first go-round at Tennessee came in the mid-1990s, when he walked-on to the track team. A self-described late bloomer, Ausmus began throwing the shot put as a sophomore at nearby Campbell County High School. He had gotten into weight lifting, and the school's track coach noticed.

"The track coach was like, 'Hey, you should try to throw this steel ball.' I picked that up and took off with it," Ausmus says. "I'm a very competitive person. To me, that was an event that if I work on it hard, I'll see success. It's you versus a distance. I just kind of took off with it."

By the time he was a senior, he was good enough to continue his career in college. Tennessee was the only place he wanted to go, so Ausmus went to a UT home meet and struck up a conversation with throws coach Bill Webb, who later became men's head coach.

"I came over and begged Bill Webb just to please let me walk on," Ausmus said. "After he met me a couple times, he was like, 'Sure.' I had to kind of wiggle in. But I'm so glad they gave me the opportunity. I didn't want to go anywhere else. To me, if I was going to do this, this is where I wanted to do it."

Webb's decision turned out to be good for the Vols.

Ausmus - who eventually earned a scholarship - blossomed into a two-time All-American as well as the 1997 indoor national champion in the shot put.

After finishing his track career, Ausmus was recruited for a graduate assistant job on UT's strength and conditioning staff by John Stucky, a former assistant athletic director for physical development at UT.

Ausmus was a little skeptical at first, despite his interest in becoming a strength coach.

"My response was, 'I've never coached anybody,'" Ausmus says of that conversation with Stucky. "His response was, 'I don't care.' He said, 'I want your competitive attitude to rub off on these other athletes, and you'll pick up how to coach as you go.'

"That was 1998 in August, and then things have just snowballed and fallen in place. Here I am now, back in the same place but now as the person in charge."

That move has a lot to do with patience as well.

After his stint as a GA and two more years as a part-time strength coach, Ausmus became a full-time assistant at Southern California in 2002, where he first met UT defensive line coach Ed Orgeron and UT head coach Lane Kiffin.

In 2005, he became Orgeron's head strength coach at Ole Miss. But when Orgeron was fired after the 2007 season, Ausmus and his wife, Andrea, chose to remain in Oxford because the couple's second child had just been born. Ausmus took a job managing a wellness center at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Oxford and waited for a strength job to open up following the 2008 season.

Ausmus was hopeful he'd get a chance to return to Tennessee in December, but perhaps his biggest involvement in the search was as a rumor.

The job eventually went to former South Carolina strength coach Mark Smith. But after a rift developed between Smith and the coaching staff, Smith was let go last month, paving the way for Ausmus to return to Knoxville after a brief stint at North Texas.

And since last week, it's been off to the races. Almost literally, given Ausmus' emphasis on speed and movement.

"The No. 1 thing I want to be great at is movement," Ausmus said. "I want to see athletes change direction. I want to see athletes get from point A to point B better than the other athletes, better than the opponent. My philosophy is if we're not working on some aspect of speed every day, our opponent is and they're going to beat us to the ball.

"We come into the weight room and train with a very fast tempo. Guys are sweating in the weight room. We're jogging in here from station to station. I want to emulate exactly how they're going to be out on the field."

Having worked with Kiffin and Orgeron before, Ausmus said his program is designed to compliment UT's fast pace on the practice field. He also stresses Olympic lifts that mimic certain football movements as well in addition to traditional lifts like squats and presses.

Although it's unusual for a new strength coach to take over in late June, Ausmus is making the most of his return to Knoxville.

"It is very weird timing," he said. "We haven't had a lot of time to sit down with the staff and talk about these philosophies and how-tos and what-ifs. It's been hitting it on the fly. We've been having short meetings with the staff about this is how we're going to do things today. We're trying to be as organized and effective as we can with as little time together as a staff as we can. It's been flying."

And, albeit unusual, it's also the chance he hoped for since leaving UT.

"With coach Kiffin coming here and now the opportunity, everything did fall into place," Ausmus says with a chuckle. "Very fortunate, very excited to get this opportunity, even if it is in June."

Drew Edwards covers University of Tennessee football. He may be reached at 865-342-6274.

Get Copyright Permissions © 2009, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!

© 2009 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Comments » 44

txvolsfan writes:

Welcome Back

teampenny#658108 writes:

Good article and a good fit. Go Vols

TommyJack writes:

I like it.

HallowedHill writes:

Sounds like the right guy for the job! Welcome back and GO VOLS!!!

SuperVolfan writes:

The Orange is strong in this one. Teach he can. May the Orange be with you.

gnm53108 writes:

Sounds like a movie.

Seriously,good read.

I really like his attention to speed.Running Monte's defense is gonna require alot of speed.

qspr91iz writes:

Due to our lack of depth on the ol and dl, it is extremely important that our lineman are in great shape so we can avoid injuries during the grueling SEC season.
GO VOLS!!!

Pullingguard writes:

Leaves lot to be answered.... Sounds like he should be the strength coach for track team. His background leaves me with a unkind feeling that this will just not work, for his background is very sketchy, or maybe it should be shallow... Still wondering what happened between Kiffin and Smith or was it that big O did not like him..

dvols writes:

great...now back to more jim bob please!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

i see a reality tv show soon!

bluetick writes:

I'm sure once Smith was hired in Dec., he had already lost hope in being back at UT. Good read. Welcome back. Now get to work. :)

HallowedHill writes:

in response to dvols:

great...now back to more jim bob please!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

i see a reality tv show soon!

Great concept, ...Jim Bob and Johnny Knoxville could team up to do wild and stupid things, ... that get you arrested.

Down_The_Field writes:

in response to TommyJack:

I like it.

me too.

didn't he come on late in 1998? hummmm.........interesting.

kiffownsfla writes:

in response to Pullingguard:

Leaves lot to be answered.... Sounds like he should be the strength coach for track team. His background leaves me with a unkind feeling that this will just not work, for his background is very sketchy, or maybe it should be shallow... Still wondering what happened between Kiffin and Smith or was it that big O did not like him..

Yea 0 didnt like him!

Hounddog writes:

in response to utwhinesalot:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Let's play football. Hounddog

tennezz writes:

Hit the "suggest removal" every time simple simon and the whiner post here!!!

DrJCrown_theMagicMan writes:

Speed kills thats why I run everyday whether I lift weights that day or not.
by the way I eat rattle snakes for breakfast...

newtonrail writes:

in response to utwhinesalot:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

And the really Big Schools have a newspaper with decent Weblog section for their own fans. Oh, Tennessee has that.. It's The Gainesville Sun and Orlando Sentinel that really stink at that.

gnm53108 writes:

Fat,dumb,and stupid is no way to go through life.

A.H.

TATER5887 writes:

The man is fit for the job i must agree, and yes he is welcomed back to UT. But geez, how many colleges is the guy going to strength trian at before he finds a home to stay at for more than a couple years. Will this be another two year and out or is he here to stay ?????

gnm53108 writes:

Did somebody mention Crown?

Gotta love the purple sack.

BigDaddyVol writes:

Could it be Coach O wanted this guy from the get go? Go Vols!!!!!!!

GreenDevilVol writes:

in response to utwhinesalot:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

So, UF only has one !!!!

Thats o.k. we have on big enough for the SEC !!!

orangebloodgmc writes:

East Tennessee boy who begged to walk on and then became All-American. That'll do, pig. That'll do.

Hickmc writes:

in response to TATER5887:

The man is fit for the job i must agree, and yes he is welcomed back to UT. But geez, how many colleges is the guy going to strength trian at before he finds a home to stay at for more than a couple years. Will this be another two year and out or is he here to stay ?????

I see this as a local boy (Campbell County) who worked his way back home. I say he will be here as long as he has a job. I would be surprised if he left on his on, unless someone else comes along and through unreal money in his direction. And if that be the case could you blame him?

Is it September 5th yet??

Hickmc writes:

in response to Hickmc:

I see this as a local boy (Campbell County) who worked his way back home. I say he will be here as long as he has a job. I would be surprised if he left on his on, unless someone else comes along and through unreal money in his direction. And if that be the case could you blame him?

Is it September 5th yet??

"Throws" not through sorry.

give_him_6 writes:

in response to HallowedHill:

Great concept, ...Jim Bob and Johnny Knoxville could team up to do wild and stupid things, ... that get you arrested.

They could call it Knoxville Dum-azz...LoL!! But Jim Bob gets the top billing cause he'll do the really hard work! And the hard time.

TATER5887 writes:

in response to Hickmc:

I see this as a local boy (Campbell County) who worked his way back home. I say he will be here as long as he has a job. I would be surprised if he left on his on, unless someone else comes along and through unreal money in his direction. And if that be the case could you blame him?

Is it September 5th yet??

Yes, you have a good point there. I do hope he stays for sometime though. He has the credentials to work where ever he wants. But no, i could not blame him for leaving if more money was on the table. Got to take care of numero uno first right.

utmichael20#546617 writes:

in response to SuperVolfan:

The Orange is strong in this one. Teach he can. May the Orange be with you.

THAT'S AWESOME!!

jzt writes:

great to have somebody that excited to be here.

sigep889 writes:

Its great to see a local guy who works hard at his dream make it. Great story and great job Aaron!! The Vols are happy to have you back home!!

Bloodrunzorange writes:

in response to Pullingguard:

Leaves lot to be answered.... Sounds like he should be the strength coach for track team. His background leaves me with a unkind feeling that this will just not work, for his background is very sketchy, or maybe it should be shallow... Still wondering what happened between Kiffin and Smith or was it that big O did not like him..

Look at it this way fellow Vol fan. His mentors are Stucky, Webb and Pete Carroll. We have a guy whose bloodrunzorange and has had some great teachers (Champions). I am more encouraged every day CAA is there. Go Vols and support CLK!

hotrodvol writes:

Back to somewhat smaller, quicker, linemen with better endurance. I would bet this would be the way Cutcliff would want the linemen to be also.

TommyJack writes:

in response to SimplyDC:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Only thing gives me pause is not being able to poof you away with ignore button. Clock is ticking on you, Dave.

hotrodvol writes:

in response to Bloodrunzorange:

Look at it this way fellow Vol fan. His mentors are Stucky, Webb and Pete Carroll. We have a guy whose bloodrunzorange and has had some great teachers (Champions). I am more encouraged every day CAA is there. Go Vols and support CLK!

Orangeblood, don't forget he was a two time All American, and a NCAA champion in 1997. Yeah he should have been the first and only choice. Tennessee born and raised, a true Volunteer.

agentorange writes:

in response to gnm53108:

Fat,dumb,and stupid is no way to go through life.

A.H.

It's "fat, drunk and stupid," you moron. "Dumb" and "stupid" are synonyms.

hotrodvol writes:

There could be some good news today for the VOLS. One of the top RBs in country is at UT today visiting Micheal Dyer, and also Micheal Parlardy will anounce between UT and LSU around 6:30 today. Could it be UT gets two Mikes today? GO VOLS!!!

Hrockytop writes:

Awhight times up, lets do this ......LEEROY JENKINS

hotcarl writes:

in response to Hrockytop:

Awhight times up, lets do this ......LEEROY JENKINS

Dammit Leeroy, why do you do this?

BasketVols writes:

in response to give_him_6:

They could call it Knoxville Dum-azz...LoL!! But Jim Bob gets the top billing cause he'll do the really hard work! And the hard time.

Now that Steve-O has sobered up, and "graduated" to wearing frilly shirts in reality dance shows, Johnny Knoxville needs a new ringer.

Long live "The Jack-ss Cooter Hour"!

VolFanNC writes:

in response to hotrodvol:

There could be some good news today for the VOLS. One of the top RBs in country is at UT today visiting Micheal Dyer, and also Micheal Parlardy will anounce between UT and LSU around 6:30 today. Could it be UT gets two Mikes today? GO VOLS!!!

I would be surprised if Dyer commits, but Eddie Gran is reeling them in....would be surprised if Palardy doesn't commit to TN today.

hotrodvol writes:

in response to VolFanNC:

I would be surprised if Dyer commits, but Eddie Gran is reeling them in....would be surprised if Palardy doesn't commit to TN today.

Palardy would be a great weapon and would start as a true freshman. I do think UT will land one of the top RBs in the country. Also Jeff Luc has set an official visit with UT during the Auburn game, that is his only visit set so far. Getting him away from the three Florida schools would be huge. He is a UM lean.

MattDillon writes:

in response to D_to_the_C:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Never heard of a "thre" ring circus. D_to_the_C = Dumb to the Core.

Volunatic writes:

He sounds like the right guy for the job. While it would have been nice if they had hired him back in December, I think it is good that he is at UT now.

panties4tebow writes:

Hey, you pantie wearing trolls....I am here to harass you like you harass everyone else.........Did you change your panties today or still wearing the ones you wore last week?

UTWINSALOT WITH KIFFIN & COMPANY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

dc has a nasty mouth and it stinks like gatorz!!!!!!!!!

BWWWWWWWWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

GETTING FEARFUL AREN'T YOU TROLLS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.

Features