NCF Nation: Bryan Miller

There are two reasons to check in with Oregon State strength and conditioning coach Bryan Miller.

First, there's the Beavers freakishly strong defensive tackle Stephen Paea. He might be the strongest football player in the United States -- NFL included. How the heck did that happen? Then there's the Beavers' outstanding reputation for developing players (see seven players drafted by NFL teams in 2009).

Miller has been the head of the Sports Performance Center staff since July of 2008 and he arrived at Oregon State in 2006. He is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), a Specialist in Sports Conditioning and a Level I Club Coach (U.S. Weightlifting).

Here's what he had to say.

So were you always a guy who focused on strength and conditioning as an athlete growing up?

Bryan Miller: Absolutely. I'm the son of a high school coach in Chicago. So being properly prepared throughout the year was taken very seriously in the Miller household.

How did you get into this as a profession?

BM: My undergrad degree was actually in marketing. But the further I got into my senior year of college, the less I wanted to wear a coat and tie and sit at a cubicle. So, like a lot of people in my family who are coaches -- football and baseball coaches -- that's definitely the pedigree of my family. It was just something that came naturally.

I realize this is a big question, but how would you summarize your philosophy?

BM: I would say it is a very methodical series of progressions for the total growth and development of the athlete, from when they are freshmen to when they are seniors.

It seems like coach Mike Riley is very good at finding guys in recruiting who aren't top prospects and turning them into NFL players -- 6-foot-5 offensive linemen who only weight 220 pounds as high school seniors. As his strength and conditioning guy, is that something you specialize in?

BM: I would say the room we need to make up for in development is a lot more than some of the other schools that are bringing in those five-star recruits. They are getting linemen in the door who are 6-5, 300 pounds who are already pretty strong and very athletic. The guys we're bringing in are 6-5 but, like you said, as low as 220. So the room we have to make up to put them on the field is a lot.

How do you motivate guys who aren't big fans of conditioning? Are you a carrot or stick kind of guy?

BM: Definitely a carrot. I think one of the philosophies we have here that is different from other schools is we work on our conditioning all year round -- January to January. So at any point during the year we're in very good shape. With the exception of incoming freshman, with everybody else on the team, when we start our first day of summer conditioning, it's never really that hard because we are already in pretty decent shape going in. The other thing is, with the size of players we bring in, our starting offensive linemen are under 295. Same thing with our defensive linemen. We don't have many guys over 300 pounds. From that standpoint, conditioning comes pretty easily to our guys.

Say you're a 15-year-old who wants to play college football: What are the most important things for him to be doing, strength and conditioning-wise, to get a scholarship?

BM: The first thing is proper, usable strength. I say proper and usable because we get some freshmen who think because they can bench-press 300 pounds they're strong enough to play their position. But most freshmen we bring in the door can't do 10 push-ups the right way. So all the freshmen who come in the door here, they don't do any bench press for the first five months. All they do are different types of push-ups.

Speaking of bench press: We've seen the video of Stephen Paea: Is he just a freak of nature or is that about a lot of that hard work?

BM: It's a combination of both. First is, genetically, he's got strength out the butt. He probably had no idea how strong he really was. It was just something that came naturally to him. Then once we got him into a very organized training program, his strength dramatically took off. Again, it came very easy to him, so it was something that he embraced. Having done that, he sets a very good example for all the younger players.

How many times do you think he'll bench 225 at the NFL combine?

BM: I'm going to shoot for the moon and say 50 [which would be a new record].

Who is another one of your hardest workers?

BM: [Defensive end] Gabe Miller, he's a stud. He's actually one of our faster guys and he's 255.

Do you have an all-time workout warrior?

BM: I feel like I'd be leaving people out if I only mention a couple of people. Hmm. Al Afalava he's definitely at the top. And Joey LaRocque and Victor Butler.

A look at Pac-10 strength coaches

June, 23, 2010
A good strength and conditioning program can make a good team great. And a mediocre team good. Here's a look at Pac-10 strength coaches.

Arizona: Corey Edmond

Edmond, whose title is "director of performance enhancement," joined the Arizona staff in 2004, following coach Mike Stoops over from Oklahoma, where he had been an assistant strength and conditioning coach since 1999. Before his term at Oklahoma, he was the head strength and conditioning coach at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga from 1995-99 and an assistant there from 1993-95. A North Carolina State graduate, Edmond played three years for the Wolfpack from 1987-90, then signed a 1991 free-agent contract with the then Houston Oilers, where he played for two years.

Arizona State: Ben Hilgart

Hilgart was named the Sun Devils Head Sports Performance Coach in January of 2008 after three seasons as an assistant with the program. Before coming to ASU in June of 2005, he spent the previous three seasons at Ohio State as an assistant strength and conditioning coach. He spent two years at UTEP as the graduate assistant strength coach after coaching the defensive line as well as serving as the head strength coach at Western Illinois University, his alma mater. He was a two-year letterman at Western Illinois, earning his bachelor's degree in physical education in 2000. He earned is master's in kinesiology from UTEP in 2003.

California: John Krasinski

Krasinski has been at California since Jeff Tedford's arrival in 2002. The two first crossed paths at Oregon, where Tedford was the Ducks offensive coordinator. Krasinski was named a Master Strength and Conditioning Coach by the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches association (CSCCa) in May of 2007, the highest honor given in the strength and conditioning coaching profession. He's heavily involved in the design and development of the new Student-Athlete High Performance Center.

Oregon: Jim Radcliffe

Radcliffe, after 25 years at Oregon, is the Pac-10's longest tenured strength and conditioning coach. He was a high school teacher before he started at Oregon in 1985. A graduate of Pacific in Forest Grove, Ore., he played four seasons at defensive back and was captain of the special teams. He earned his master’s in biomechanics from Oregon in 1992. He is certified by the United States Weightlifting Federation. He also has written books, been published in numerous professional journals and produced videos on plyometrics.

Oregon State: Bryan Miller

Miller was promoted to head of the Sports Performance Center staff in July of 2008 and oversees all the operations of the 20,000 square foot Sports Performance Center. He arrived at Oregon State in the spring of 2006 after serving as an assistant strength and conditioning coach at Wisconsin. He also spent four years in the same capacity at Northern Illinois University. He played football at North Park University in Chicago, where he was a two-year letterwinner and team captain. He is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), a Specialist in Sports Conditioning and a Level I Club Coach (U.S. Weightlifting).

Stanford: Kevin Tolbert

Tolbert was promoted to the position of Head Strength and Conditioning Coach this spring after being the assistant strength and conditioning coach in 2009. Tolbert came to Stanford after one year with the Detroit Lions strength and conditioning staff, which was preceded by an eight-year stint at Michigan from 2001-07. He also coached at Miami. A native of Hempstead, NY, he graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1981 with a B.S. degree in physical science. He also was a three-year football letterman, helping the Midshipman to a pair of bowl appearances.

UCLA: Mike Linn

Linn, a former Bruins offensive lineman, is in the fourth year of his second tenure as UCLA’s head athletic performance coach. He's served at UCLA from 1999-2002 and from 2007 to the present. He is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the National Strength Coaches Association, as well as a Level One weightlifting coach. Linn also is active in community service as the organizing force behind Prime Time Games, which brings together economically disadvantaged students and children with developmental disabilities in an after-school program.

USC : Aaron Ausmus

Ausmus has been a head strength and conditioning coach at Idaho, Mississippi, North Texas and Tennessee. He was hired by new Trojans head coach Lane Kiffin in February, but the two are familiar with each other's work. Ausmus worked with Kiffin from 2001-03 when both were USC assistants, and Kiffin hired Ausmus to run the strength program at Tennessee in 2009. Kiffin is the second former USC assistant to hire Ausmus. When Idaho hired away then-Trojans assistant Nick Holt to be its head football coach, Holt brought Ausmus along. Ausmus was a two-time All-American track star -- shot put -- at Tennessee.

Washington: Ivan Lewis

Lewis followed second-year Huskies coach Steve Sarkisian from USC, and he brought along the Trojans philosophy of agility over bulk, see an offensive line that slimmed down by 20 or 30 pounds per man in many cases. During his three years at USC as a strength and conditioning assistant, Lewis worked directly with the QBs, the position then coached by Sarkisian. Lewis played football at Idaho before knee injuries ended his career.

Washington State: Darin Lovat

Lovat joined the Cougars staff before Paul Wulff's first season in 2008. Previously, he was an assistant strength coach at Boston College (2007-2008), but he worked with Wulff at Eastern Washington from 2002-2007. He also served as an assistant strength coach at UCLA from 1999-2002. The former UNLV offensive lineman has good bloodlines. His uncle, Tom Lovat, is a long-time NFL assistant coach, while his cousin, Mark Lovat, is an assistant strength coach with the Green Bay Packers.