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The Feeley Difference: How Miami’s New Coach Is Reshaping Players and Tradition

David Feeley is improving the mindset, will, and core of the Miami Hurricanes football team.

David Feeley
Courtesy of Tim Brogdon via Miami Athletics

The Miami Hurricanes offseason has been full of storylines and excitement. Often lost in the shuffle of big names like Manny Diaz and Dan Enos, are other foundational pieces brought in to embolden “The New Miami”. One of the great pinpoints of Coach Diaz’s early tenure was sharpening the strength and conditioning program. After spending the past two seasons at Temple University, David Feeley will be proudly entering his 14th season as a college football coach. What drew Diaz to Feeley was his growing resume of cultivating bigger, stronger, and faster players.

Diaz spoke earlier in this year, highlighting his attributes, “David is an outstanding coach who has a strong track record of motivating players to help them reach their full potential. The culture we’re putting into place and the tone we set for the upcoming season starts in the weight room when our players return to campus. That’s why this hire was so critical and I’m thrilled to welcome David to the Miami program.”

Feely wants to bring back the toughness, grit, and rigorous training tradition that was the staple of every great Miami Hurricanes football team. He also wants to increase the flexibility and mobility these skilled athletes. Feeley stated to reporters in April, “We’ll put them through some serious stress levels in the summertime. We do need to get a little bit more powerful, a little stronger, like everybody else in America. But the way we’ll condition and condition out here in this heat, it will set us apart.”

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Building your core and bulking up can be quite a task when several key elements of a roster are coming back from injuries or have lingering ones. Brevin Jordan and center Corey Gaynor missed time in the offseason with knee injuries. Playmakers Jeff Thomas and Brian Hightower are both recovering from arthroscopic knee procedures. Bradley Jennings, Lorenzo Lingard, Zach McCloud, and several others were limited in some shape or form during the offseason. Feeley is conscious of the fact that the best ability is availability. He recently spoke about his approach with players in these unfortunate circumstances:

“Well, we kind of treat the body like a test, you know? Your limbs are 20 [percent] each and the core is 20. So if there’s something kind of not working, you can still get an 80 on that test. Whatever bumps or bruises they have, that’s fine. That’s part of it. If you don’t, you’re probably not practicing hard enough and it’s not a good effort. Our guys. … they give good effort. They’re going to get bumped up. But as long as you keep working with them, and they can let you know what bothers them and what doesn’t, then you can build trust within the player-coach relationship. You’re going to work with them and get them stronger, any which way you can. They’ll know that and they’ll be ready for the fall.”

The returns are in and Feeley has been getting rave reviews from the players and Diaz’s staff. Manny Diaz stated at a Hurricane Club event in Orlando that “the strength coach sets the culture in your program.” The players have gotten “bigger, strong and bought into what it takes to be a Miami Hurricane.” Dan Enos also heaped praise on Feeley by saying he is “on the cutting edge with nutrition, with movements and lifts and different techniques.” Even recruits are taking note of Feeley’s methods.

It’s appears Gus Felder’s replacement accepts the baton of accountability, responsibility, and the pivotal importance of setting the tone for the grueling season ahead. On-field dominance always begins in the weight room. The rigorous work these players put in with Feeley now will pay dividends in the fall. When the tackles start to pile up and the endurance of the team shines through, it will be because of these months of grinding. Feeley is not just building physical endurance but mental endurance as well.