After Mark Stoops was hired to helm the Kentucky football program he brought with him Florida State's director of sport science and football operations Erik Korem. Korem's expertise provides the football program a single cog in the wider vision Stoops originally gave to athletic director Mitch Barnhardt justifying his hire. To this point, Korem's program has been well-discussed in generalities.
For example, the program is all-encompassing in terms of nutrition, conditioning, mental-preparation, and strength training. The command structure mirrors Australian rules football model. Science and technology play critical roles. It helped to prevent and decrease injuries. Players have gotten noticeably leaner and stronger. The national media and NFL coaches took notice, and starting coming to Lexington to learn about this curious new approach.
While great for program promotion, those are all generalities that to this point haven't paid real dividends except for the decrease player injuries. That was until today, when Avery Williamson exceeded expectations at the NFL Combine and in the process possibly made himself a much richer person.
Avery Williamson's official 40 time is 4.66, sixth among linebackers and well below his goal to simply run sub-4.8.— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_CJ) Februar y 24, 2014
Most athletes, or their agents, higher private trainers in the lead-up to the combine knowing its imperative for most of them to maximize their measurements, while Williams elected to train with UK's strength and conditioning coaches. Subsequently, Williamson went on to earn a 40 time placing him in the top six of linebackers. His bench reps tied him for 7th among linebackers; he was ninth among linebackers in the broad jump; and third in the shuttle. He also weighed in at 246 pounds with seven percent body fat.
Coming into the combine Williamson was projected by many draft experts as being drafted in the very late rounds or be signed as a free agent. His performance today could very well have improved things. Williamson's issues were never mental preparation or focus, but rather technique and athletic ability. The perception of the latter may have altered.
To this point, UK could point to photos of their player's physical changes, or talk in general about the the program, but now money may also do some of the talking. Today's results validates Korem's program for willing athletes. The sales pitch to recruits practically writes itself. If Williamson gets drafted earlier than originally conceived then this will have been a good day for Kentucky football.