Joe Connolly will remain as head football performance coach

TEMPE – Head Coach of Sun Devil Football Kenny Dillingham announced that he would keep it Joe Connolly as the program’s Head Football Athletic Performance Coach. Connolly has held the position for the past five seasons at ASU.

“There was no such question Joe Connolly He was the right man for the job,” Dillingham said. “His name was well known before I came back to Tempe, and he was one of the first people I sat down with when I arrived. Joe is well-known in the strength and training world for his attention to detail and work ethic he brings to his student-athletes in training. He is the consummate professional and we are honored to have him in Tempe.”

Connolly has raised the bar for strength training in Arizona by building and leading a talented staff in the fields of nutrition, sports science and sports performance. As ASU Football’s head athletic performance coach, Connolly developed, modified and implemented a unique training system for each individual. Connolly introduced new technology and equipment during his tenure as head athletic performance coach for football.

“I’m not sure anyone would have listened to what Coach Dillingham had to say as the head coach of this program and would not have been more excited to have had the opportunity to work with him,” Connolly said. “I’m really proud and excited to take that passion and energy and transfer it to the weight room this season. Arizona State is special to me and I’m excited to continue to be a part of this university.”

Connolly was named a Master Strength and Conditioning Coach (MSCC) by the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association (CSCCa) earlier this season. The honor is the highest honor given in the strength and conditioning coaching profession, and the ceremony is a highlight of the association’s annual national convention.

“This is an incredible honor for Joe,” CCCa CEO Scott Bennett said at the time. “Being recognized as a Master Strength and Conditioning Coach represents a commitment to the student-athlete, the Arizona State athletic program, and the strength and conditioning profession. We are proud to welcome Coach Connolly to our association as a Master Strength and Conditioning Coach. He is an outstanding strength, is an example of a training profession.”

In his five seasons with the Sun Devil football program, Connolly has worked with several players who are thriving at the next level, including this season’s NFL rookies Rachaad White and Jack Jones. His program played a big role in Sun Devil wide receiver Brandon Ayuk becoming a first-round draft pick in 2020, marking the first consecutive years ASU has taken a receiver in the first round. Running back Eno Benjamin was also selected in this draft and remains on the active roster of the Arizona Cardinals.

The list of pros he worked with during his time at ASU includes 2019 NFL Draft picks WR N’Keal Harry (first round) and Renell Wren (fourth round) who benefited from working with Connolly. Prior to the draft, Wren was highlighted as a high-profile NFL draft pick, where he previously played defensive end for the Sun Devils. Also in Connolly’s program were OL Quinn Bailey, DB Jalen Harvey, OL Casey Tucker and QB Manny Wilkins, all 2019 NFL rookie free agents before starting their professional careers.

On the 2021 Sun Devil football roster, future NFL players Rachaad White, Jones, Chase Lucas, Darien Butler and DJ Davidson all changed their bodies after arriving in Tempe, making them candidates for the draft or free agency.

Connolly joined ASU from UMass, primarily with the football team. In his first year with the program, Connolly helped develop 6-6, 329-pound offensive lineman Elijah Wilkinson, who signed with the Denver Broncos as an undrafted free agent and finished the 2018 season as a starter on Denver’s offensive line.

Connolly also oversaw the development of Adam Breneman’s strength and athleticism. In 2017, Breneman was named to the USA TODAY College Football All-American team as one of the top two players in the country. He finished the 2017 campaign leading the nation in receptions per game (5.8) and second in yards per game (69.5). Breneman became the third Minuteman to be named to the All-American National Team.

A native of Barnstable, Mass., Connolly comes to Amherst after seven seasons with the University of South Carolina football program with Hall of Fame coach Steve Spurrier. During his tenure with the Gamecocks, he coached 45 NFL draft picks, including 2014 No. 1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney. The Gamecocks won the SEC East in 2010 and went 5-2 against in-state rival Clemson in six straight bowl games under Connolly. South Carolina was also one of three Power 5 teams to win 11 games in three straight years.

Before coming to Columbia, Connolly was an assistant strength and conditioning coach at the University of Louisville. He worked with the Cardinal football program, focusing primarily on skill position players. Connolly began his professional career at Harvard in 2007, where he assisted 41 games in all sports on the league’s championship football team. He joined the Crimson in 2008 as a full-time assistant strength and conditioning coach and served as the men’s volleyball strength and conditioning coach while continuing to assist other programs.

Connolly graduated magna laude in 2007 with a master’s degree in exercise science from Bridgewater State, majoring in strength and conditioning. He graduated from the University of Hartford in 2004 with degrees in criminal justice and sociology. He was a four-year varsity baseball player and received the Senior Award for outstanding sportsmanship and endurance. Connolly is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach (SCCC) Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist by the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association (CSCCA) and the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA).

Connolly is a current competitor in Olympic weightlifting, drug-free powerlifting, hill country events and strongman competitions. He was joined in Tempe by his wife, Shalona, ​​and daughter, Cali, due in August 2021.

Bowl Experience:

2009 Papa John’s Cup
2010 Chick-Phil-A Cup
2011 Capital One Bowl
2012 Outback Bowl
2013 Capital One Bowl
2014 Independence Cup
2018 Las Vegas Bowl
2019 Tiger Tony Sunglass
2021 Las Vegas Bowl

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