Fitzgerald New Strength Coach

The South Carolina Gamecocks have hired Craig Fitzgerald, Harvard strength and conditioning coach since April 2005, to fill the same position at USC, GamecockAnthem.com learned Saturday night. Fitzgerald will take over the spot vacated by former South Carolina strength and conditioning coach Mark Smith, who took the same position at Tennessee this December.

Fitzgerald directly trained the football, men and women's basketball, wrestling, men and women's tennis, and men and women's crew (with Emily Saul) programs while at Harvard.

Fitzgerald replaces Smith, who held the position at South Carolina since 2005 and was with Spurrier for stints at the University of Florida and the Washington Redskins. Interim strength coach Dan Austin was at one time considered the frontrunner for the job.

Fitzgerald has ties to current South Carolina special teams coordinator Ray Rychleski and was a three-time varsity letter winner on the University of Maryland's football team from 1992-1996. Fitzgerald served as Assistant Director of Strength and Conditioning at Maryland from 2000-2005 while Rychleski was also on the Maryland staff.

While a player at Maryland, Fitzgerald roomed with Kevin A. Plank, founder and President of Under Armour. Fitzgerald has also done some work with Under Armour and explained his extensive duties at Harvard in a Meet the Trainer segment on the Under Armour website.

"At Harvard I am in charge of the training for 41 NCAA teams, the largest Athletic Department in the country," Fitzgerald said. "The opportunity to work with such a diversity of athletes, coaches, and teams, ranging from football to fencing, expands one's perspective and experience as a strength and conditioning coach."

Fitzgerald also offered what strength and conditioning means to him and why he got into the business, in the same Under Armour feature.

"Strength and conditioning has been a central part of my life since middle school; I discovered that as I got faster, stronger, and better conditioned, I became a better player," Fitzgerald said. "As a college football player at the University of Maryland, I was exposed to the best training tactics and techniques in the field of strength and conditioning, while also being exposed to the best training gear, with the beginning of Under Armour during my senior year."

Before his stint at Maryland, Fitzgerald served as Graduate Assistant Strength and Conditioning at Arizona State in 1999 and Director of Strength and Conditioning at The Catholic University of America from 1997-1999.

Fitzgerald is the latest addition to a South Carolina staff that has seen some turnover this offseason. First offensive line coach John Hunt was let go and recruiting coordinator and quarterbacks coach David Reaves left to join his brother-in-law at Tennessee. Then Smith left for Tennessee as well.

Spurrier countered by hiring Eric Wolford away from Illinois and G.A. Mangus away from Middle Tennessee St. That leaves the spot that opened when safeties coach Ron Cooper left for LSU as the final position Spurrier has to fill. That hire could come at any time.

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