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A NEW BREED: University of Tennessee
Creating the Perfect Offensive Lineman.
By Greg Shepard
Published: Fall 1999

Let's create the perfect offensive tackle. What do we do? Make him big! Like 6-6 and 330 pounds. Make him strong! Like Bench 470, Squat 605 and Power Clean for reps over 300 pounds. Make him fast! Like run a 4.9 forty. Make him explosive! Like vertical jump 30 inches and do a standing long jump of 9 feet-3 inches. Make him a leader! Like team captain. Make him smart! Like graduate in Psychology. Make him into a coach's dream as far as character and work ethic! "We've got one", says Tennessee strength coach John Stucky. "His name is Chad Clifton!"
I have known Coach Stucky for many years. First, when he was the strength coach at Oklahoma State (1984-88), then Arkansas (1988-93) and at Tennessee (1994 to present). However, before that he coached at Wichita State, Kansas State and North Carolina State. He also received All-America honors as a nose guard at Kansas State and several strength coach of the year awards.
When Coach Stucky says, "I got one!" I believe. Especially when you're the defending national champions. I arrived in Knoxville in mid-July. Coach Stucky had over 70 players coming to his early morning workouts. He has one of the finest strength complexes in the nation which is called the Percy Strength Facility. It is 12,000 square feet and is located in the Neyland-Thompson Sports Center. Stucky's complex has about 50,000 pounds of weights and 140 training stations. He has assembled a premier staff that includes Chris Carlisle, associate head strength and conditioning coach, with assistants Brian Brown and Johnny Long and graduate assistant Aaron Ausmus, a former Tennessee two-time All-American and national champion shot putter. There are two other GA's plus volunteers who train over 400 athletes involved in men's sports.
As I drove into the land of the Volunteers, I was overwhelmed at the site of Neyland Stadium. The last two years they have averaged over 106,500 rabid fans per game. Tops in the nation. Now I was ready to meet Chad Clifton who fits every criteria for the new 21st century now breed for an offensive lineman.
Chad began his workout by doing a twenty minute warm-up routine which consisted of loosening running drills, flexibility, agility, sprinting and abdominal work. Coach Stucky stated, "This routine has cut down on pulls and injuries."
After this warm-up session, Chad began his strength workout: Benches, Dumbbell Presses, Parallel Squats, Clean Pulls and Medicine Ball work. "We don't do anything too fancy," said Coach Stucky modestly. "We mostly Squat and Pull. We spend most of our time on the platform." Almost all of Tennessee football strength work is done with free weights.
Chad played at Martin Westview High School in West Tennessee, where he was a Parade Magazine and Scholastic Coach All-America. He was also the Tennessee Gatorade Circle of Champions Player of the Year and rated the number one tackle in the nation by Max Emfinger. Chad was already amazing at 6-6 285 pounds with a 325 Bench and 500 Squat. He could have sat back but that is not in Chad's character. Improvement was on Chad's agenda.
Chad admitted the whole recruiting process was amazing. "I had three big time coaches actually in my house. But, I've been a Tennessee fan all my life. Coming to Tennessee was like a dream come true.”
Chad red shirted his first year and then became a starter in his first year of eligibility. This next season will mark his 4th year as a starter for the Vols. Last year Chad earned first-team All-SEC honors and this year is making Pre-Season All-America teams. Coach Mike Barry, Chad's line Coach, gave his evaluation. "Chad has all the tools for greatness."
Winning the national championship was the biggest highlight of his career. "It just makes you work harder," said Chad speaking about his preparation to defend the title in 1999. "You tasted it and you want to taste it again."
Speaking as a captain who is proud of his teammates, Chad reported, "No one is sitting back. Everybody is working so hard. Everyone puts in extra time to get better."
Chad believes he has a chance to play in the NFL. "If it happens," explains Chad, "I will thank the Lord. But, I need to stay healthy and work hard. That's why my degree is so important. When football is over at whatever level, I'll be able to move on. Graduating means a lot to me and my parents.
“I believe to be successful you must work hard with determination. You have got to want to be successful. Summer is the key. How hard are you willing to work in the summer?"
The question of steroids is becoming almost obsolete. Football players at Division I schools do not seem to be using nearly as much as a decade or two ago. Chad stated, "I've never seen them. I've seen steroids on TV. I figured I'd see them when I came to Tennessee but I never have. I've never tried Andro but I have used a little Creatine. I stopped that. I'm big enough. I believe you should be happy with yourself. Never go halfway. Always give your best effort."
Chad has two brothers and two sisters and loves his family get-togethers. "If I did something bad, they would still love me but it would be difficult and going back to my small town would be humiliating. I'm lucky to have a great family and to have faith in the Lord."
Coach Stucky was so very right. He's got one. Coach Stucky preaches to all his players to stay humble and hungry. He calls it the two "H's." He stresses three areas for success: Discipline, work ethic and accountability. Chad Clifton is the poster player for this ideal.
Go Vols!

______________

Over the last two years the Vols have averaged over 106,500 rabid fans per game. Tops in the nation.

Chad Clifton
Chad has Benched 470 lbs. Notice the rock-solid wide-based position... perfect!
Chad has perfect Power Clean starting form: Jump stance, knuckles down, elbows straight, hips down, chest spread, bar to chins.
Chad Clifton with Coach John Stucky: Friend, coach, mentor, counselor and father figure.
Perfect Form! Sit tall, spread the chest, eyes on target, knees over toes, perfect bar placement. Chad’s personal best is 605 lbs.


Return to Fall 1999 Articles


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