San Francisco – New Lions head of strength and conditioning Harold Nash Jr. was a captain at the University of Southwest Louisiana (now Louisiana-Lafayette) and then spent 10 years in the CFL as an all-star defensive back.
Having played the game gives him a unique perspective and understanding of players, according to former Patriots linebacker Willie McGinest, who played in New England when Nash Jr. was an assistant strength and conditioning coach with the Patriots in 2005.
"He played the sport, so he understands it," McGinest said during a media event. "When I was going there and he was there we always talked about new and different ways to get the football players stronger, faster for a longer period of time."
Nash began as the Patriots' assistant strength and conditioning coach in 2005 before being promoted to head strength and conditioning coach in 2011. He held that position until he was let go after the Patriots lost in the AFC Championship Game.
He was hired by new Lions GM Bob Quinn in an attempt to revamp and revitalize Detroit's strength and conditioning program.
"I can just say that he's young at what he's doing and he's continuously getting better and better," McGinest said. "He's not afraid to go and research and talk to other people and incorporate what's working and try to come up with one formula to make guys stay on the football field for a long period of time and play at a high level.
"Harold is a champion, man. He's the first African-American strength coach to win a Super Bowl. Nobody really talks about that."
Lions players will get their first look at the changes Nash Jr. is making in Detroit when they report for the beginning of the offseason workout program April 18.