It’s 7 a.m. on a Tuesday, he has already gone for a run and finished a lift lifting session for the day. Now he’s ensuring the team is up and eating a healthy breakfast. Glancing around the cafeteria to double-check certain players are eating proper portions to gain or, in some cases, even lose weight.
Is Bryan Wright drinking his protein shake? Did the freshman receivers finish their plates or just go for the waffles loaded up with syrup and whipped cream on top? Just a few of the million steps thoughts and questions answered every single day of Brady Collins’ life – and he loves every minute of it.
Over the past few years we have noticed an explosion of strength training programs and facility upgrades across division 1 college football. What used to be just one facet of a college program is now considered to be just as – or even more – important than the X’s and O’s. Some say the strength coach is the most important piece of the puzzle behind the head coach.
The free market economy seems to agree. Iowa strength coach Chris Doyle will rake in $725,000 this year. Nick Saban considers Scott Cochran to be his righthand man. Scott earned $535,000 last year. Indeed, a whopping 80 D1 strength coaches earn six-figure salaries. With some offensive and defensive coordinator salaries crossing the million-dollar mark, this should come as no surprise, and trust me, every dollar is justified.
Let’s be clear – Mr. Collins’ role is absolutely vital to the success of the Bearcats football program. College football isn’t so much about “the X’s and O’s” as it is “the Jimmies and the Joes.” And who eats, sleeps, and breathes with the players? Who trains the players 280 days a year? Who is responsible for bulking up those talented, yet scrawny, freshman? Who helped Bryan Wright drop 30 pounds to transition to his middle linebacker position this year? Why the man behind the muscle, that’s who.
Collins played four years of D3 football at Otterbein College, graduating in 2009. For those who don’t know, student athletes at this level do not receive scholarships. In Brady’s words, “you are playing for the love of the game.” Armed with a bachelor’s degree in exercise science, he knew at that time what he wanted to do.
He took an unpaid internship position with the Ohio State University. Then, he earned an internship with the University of Kentucky. He helped the Cincinnati Bengals program, during these early years. He eventually earned a graduate assistant position with UK in 2010. He did not earn a salary until he was around 26, having to work at Finish Line selling shoes to pay the bills and put food on the table.
“Intern. Volunteer. Do whatever it takes.” Words to live by. He lived in a small one-bedroom apartment, paying $400 in rent to make ends meet. Focused on the future, Collins then worked at Mississippi State before getting the call to head to the Ohio State University.
Brady spent time with Randall Cobb (AKA “Batman”) while at UK and also Dak Prescott while at Mississippi State – two of the most charismatic, energetic football players around.
While at OSU in 2015, Collins formed a close relationship with “Coach Fick,” as he calls him. When Luke Fickell began to form his staff after being hired at UC, Brady Collins was a no-brainer.
Although there is no typical path to become a D1 strength coach, Collins considers his long, winding path to be the most common in the profession. Be prepared to move around the country with a day’s notice. Be prepared to work your butt off. Be prepare to do whatever it takes.
Known for his “juice” concept and “attention training,” Brady instills a new-found energy in the weight room and on the field. Loud music every day. Themed workouts. Switch it up. Daily challenges. Encourage. Encourage. Encourage.
When he’s not training the football team in the Monster fFctory, Collins enjoys spending time with his wife and their daughter. You might even find him at his favorite restaurant, Tony’s, scarfing down a steak.
By Andy Smith