Brian Kelly and Notre Dame announced the hiring of Paul Long as the director of strength and conditioning for the Irish football program along with the addition of two other strength coaches – Jacob Flint and Lorenzo Guess – on Tuesday.
Longo, long rumored to be the new strength and conditioning coach for the Irish replaces Rueben Mendoza – Charlie Weis’s strength coach for his entire five year tenure. Longo brings 23 years experience as a strength and conditioning coach with him to Notre Dame.
For the past six years Longo has been the head strength coach for Brian Kelly’s teams at both Central Michigan and Cincinnati. The two have combined to develop a well conditioned football team that closes out games strong. Over the past five seasons, Kelly and Longo’s teams have compiled a 42-1 record when taking a lead into the fourth quarter and a 39-2 mark when taking a lead into the third quarter. Considering Notre Dame’s struggles closing out games the past two seasons, Irish fans will be hoping the duo can duplicate that success in South Bend.
From the sound of Tuesday’s press release announcing the hiring, it sounds as Longo will have a much larger leadership role with the team than his processor. “He cuts across the traditional strength and conditioning coach mold because he builds relationships with all players and coaches and serves as a leader, not just in the weight room, but throughout the program,” Kelly said in the release.
“Paul is a critical addition to our program because, arguably, no coach will have more contact with our players throughout the whole year than our strength and conditioning coach. Based on his track record and what I have personally witnessed, I can’t wait to see how he’ll make our team better moving forward,” Kelly would add.
Longo will be joined by a few familiar faces for he and Kelly. Jacob Flint was a part of the strength and conditioning program at Cincinnati under Longo since 2007 and was a former walkon for Kelly at Central Michigan.
Lorenzo Guess was the tight ends coach for Brian Kelly at Cincinnati last year after serving as a strength and conditioning coach at South Florida (2009), Alcon State (2008), Kentucky State (2007), Cincinnati (2006), and Tiffin (2005). Guess was a four year letterman in football at Michigan State from 1999-2002 while also earning two letters in basketball.
The new staff will have its work cut out for it as rumors have long circulated that the previous strength and conditioning staff was not getting the kind of results needed to return Notre Dame to prominence. Late game collapses and poor showings at the NFL combine in strength drills by Irish players only added fuel to these rumors.
There’s been a lot of talk about “Camp Kelly” and the rigorous off-season conditioning drills that Kelly and Longo plan on implementing – something they did every year at Cincinnati. It will be up to Longo to run those drills and get the Irish ready for spring ball.
Kelly has said multiple times that the work that goes in between now and spring practice is more important than the actual 15 practices you get in spring ball, and now he has a strength and conditioning team that he is familiar with to make sure that work gets done.
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