Rock Gullickson and his wife Terry never had a baby of their own. Instead the happy couple accept all athletes receiving the coach’s teachings as their own.
This week the Gullicksons became the proud parents of roughly 100 orange-clad boys, including five about to start their life in college at Tennessee.
The 39-year strength coach veteran met with the five midyear enrollees Tuesday prior to his introductory press conference in the Ray & Lucy Hand Digital Studio.
“Saw the excitement in their eyes, saw the enthusiasm that we all share about being a part of Vols football,” said Gullickson, who is now the director of strength and conditioning for all of Tennessee's 20 teams.
“I’m just one man. Now, I’ve got the plan, I can provide the leadership, but they’ve got to be working with me on this and together I think we can accomplish a lot.”
Knowing that the movements, the resistance formula, the pyramid training method are all the same that the pros used for nearly two decades under Gullickson’s guidance provides the 61-year-old with instant credibility, even with teenagers fresh off the glitz and glamour of the recruiting scene.
“I watched a little video on him,” defensive end Deandre Johnson said. “Great guy. He knows what he’s doing obviously because he’s been in the NFL. He knows the body well, and I’m excited to get to work with him and change my body.”
Johnson wants to increase his strength levels but hopes to get to the 255-260-pound range before training camp in August. He isn’t the only one with lofty goals.
Like Miami native Johnson, linebacker Shanon Reid left the tropical climate of the Sunshine State in favor of a snowy Rocky Top. The Fort Myers product Reid did so for one reason: “Start.”
Like the other incoming freshmen, Reid knew all about Gullickson back in December as Butch Jones gave future Volunteers a glimpse into his vision for filling the director’s vacancy.
“I seen the video on (Gullickson),” Reid said. “Coach Jones showed me when he came to my house.
“You can’t do nothin’ without it. Gotta learn it. The best of the best. It gets no better than that.”
Reid wants to improve upon his 420-pound squat max and 250-pound bench press.
Perhaps the area where change is most needed in adding bulk is the offensive front. Two-thirds of Tennessee’s offensive linemen committed for 2017 are in Knoxville already, including Scout five-star prospect Trey Smith and three-star Riley Locklear.
“I’ve spoken with (Gullickson) on the phone (prior to moving to Knoxville) on my official visit,” Locklear said. “Coach Jones had told me on my official visit, he said, ‘This is the guy that I want to hire.’ And I talked to him on the phone and talked to him personally. He seems to be a very motivated and very intelligent person. He’s very straightforward with you. I like him a lot. I’m really excited to meet with him, especially with some of the connections he’l have with the NFL. It’s not going to do anything but just make Tennessee better.”