Zach Duval – UCF
FootballScoop is proud to announce that Zach Duval is the 2017 FootballScoop Strength & Conditioning Coach of the Year presented by AstroTurf as selected by prior winners.
UCF completed the first ever winless-to-undefeated 2-year turnaround in major college football history from 2015 to ’17, and such a historic change simply would not be possible without making significant strides in the weight room.
Indeed, UCF’s change from an 0-12 season in the year prior to Scott Frost’s arrival to a 6-7 record in his first year and then to this season’s 13-0 mark was as much about Duval’s work with the Knights in the offseason as anything that happened on game day.
If you need evidence, take this testimony from the head coach himself.
“Zach deserves this award,” Frost told FootballScoop. “The transformation of our team in two years that he has engineered is unbelievable. We have also been the healthiest team in the country this year because of how he has trained our players. I can’t imagine that anyone has done a better job.”
Added defensive coordinator Erik Chinander: “Zach is awesome. We were strong and fast this year, thanks to his work. We had zero soft tissue injuries this year.”
The Knights’ run to an undefeated season included two wins over top-20 Memphis, 13 of 13 games scoring at least 31 points, seven wins by 25 points or more, an American Athletic Conference championship and a Peach Bowl win over SEC West champion Auburn, which led the school to claim a 2017 national championship.
UCF led the nation in scoring offense this season at 48.2 points per game, winning by an average of 23 points per game. Though the Knights spent most of their season blowing their opponents out, the year closed with the type of tight wins a team can only pull off it is healthy and well-conditioned. UCF clinched the AAC East Division championship by scoring 21 points in the fourth quarter to beat rival South Florida 49-42, outlasted Memphis 62-55 in double overtime to win the AAC title, and then ripped off 21 straight points in an 11-minute second half span to beat Auburn 34-27 in the Peach Bowl.
“I was blessed to serve the players at UCF. This award is accepted on their behalf because of the sacrifice and determination they showed over the last two years,” Duval said. “I want to thank each and everyone of them, from the fourth-string walk-on to the starting quarterback. I also would like to thank Coach Frost for giving me the opportunity to work with such a great group of hardworking young-men. And lastly, I want to thank my strength staff for showing up everyday and serving the players of UCF with me.”
A Nebraska graduate, Duval began working in the strength industry on Tom Osborne’s staff as a student assistant in 1994, as a graduate assistant in 1995-96, and then as an assistant strength coach from 1997-02. After leaving the industry to work in private business from 2003-07, he returned to the Nebraska strength staff in 2008. He left Lincoln to serve as Buffalo’s director of sports performance from 2010-13, helping Khalil Mack develop into a No. 2 pick in the NFL Draft, and then spent two seasons in a similar post at Wyoming — working alongside former Osborne assistant Craig Bohl — before joining Frost’s staff at UCF. He has since followed Frost back to their mutual alma mater at Nebraska.
Duval will receive his award and be recognized at an event at the AFCA Convention in January.
Previous winners of the Strength & Conditioning Coach of the Year award are Don Sommer (TCU, 2008), Joey Batson (Clemson, 2009), Kevin Yoxall (Auburn, 2010), Shannon Turley (Stanford, 2011), Kaz Kazadi (Baylor, 2012), Pat Ivey (Missouri, 2013), Zac Woodfin (UAB, 2014), Ken Mannie (Michigan State, 2015) and Tim Socha (Washington, 2016). The prior winners selected this year’s winner.
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