Rutgers players speak annually about their respect for the military service academies. Under new strength and conditioning leader Kenny Parker, the Scarlet Knights better be ready to embrace the same work ethic.
Parker, the son of a 22-year Air Force veteran, plans to teach what he knows when players report for workouts Tuesday at 5 a.m.
“I was raised like that so I have no choice,” Parker said on a military upbringing. “That’s who I am. I love my parents to death. I’m glad they did me like that. They’d get me up at 5 o’clock in the morning to do chores just for the heck of it. That’s who they are, so that’s the mentality I’m going to bring. It got me here, so it didn’t do too bad for me.”
Parker grew up in a military home but he developed as a football mind at some of the top spots in college football. Parker was a player and coach with the Florida Gators during Urban Meyer’s dominant run. He rejoined Meyer as an assistant strength and conditioning coach with Ohio State.
A part of multiple championship programs, Parker feels ready to run his own weight room at Rutgers.
“There are many ways to skin a cat,” Parker said. “I would never say that what [the former staff] did was wrong because there’s many ways to do it. [My style] is just a new mentality. It’s a mindset that at the end of the day, whomever is the tougher team who fights the hardest is going to win the game.
“Are we an Olympic team? We do a little bit of that. Are we high intensity? Yes we do that. If I could say exactly what is it that we are, we are a gritty, hard-nosed, accountability [team].”
So what can the Scarlet Knights expect in the transition from Jeremy Cole to Parker?
It starts with mental toughness.
“Holding guys accountable, we’re going to make sure we did things the right way,” Parker said. “I’m mentally going to try to challenge you. As time goes on, guys are going to get stronger. … You do pushups, pull ups, sit ups, squats, you eventually get stronger. That doesn’t guarantee mentality. There’s a lot of things we do mentally to challenge guys to back them into a corner to see if they fight or they run.”
Parker is admittedly unfamiliar with the Rutgers roster after less than one month on the job and a focus on recruiting until National Signing Day.