For Zac Woodfin, no moment is too big. From coaching a perennial Pro-Bowler to struggling football teams, Woodfin embraced the challenge.
During Woodfin’s collegiate career, he finished as the University of Alabama-Birmingham’s all-time leading tackler. Woodfin played three seasons for the Blazers before making the jump to the NFL ranks.
Woodfin played for several NFL franchises, including the Green Bay Packers (’05), New Orleans Saints (’05), Baltimore Ravens (’05-’06) and the Houston Texans (’07). Woodfin never cracked a 53-man roster during his time in the NFL, but did make his crack in another league.
The Frankfurt Galaxy selected Woodfin in the first round of the 2007 NFL Europe Draft. The Galaxy lost to the Hamburg Sea Devils in World Bowl XV, the same year Woodfin was drafted. Woodfin never made another appearance on the field as a player but instead; he made an impact in other ways.
Woodfin worked at the Athletes Performance Institute (API) in Los Angeles. In Los Angeles, he worked with several NFL players including Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers, Donald Driver, Clay Matthews, Charles Woodson and Jordy Nelson, hoping to earn a shot at the NFL.
In 2011, Woodfin became the Strength and Conditioning Assistant for the Green Bay Packers, replacing specialist Dave Redding.
“I think as far as my time in Green Bay and a lot of places I’ve been, I try to treat them the same,” Woodfin said. “Just to give my best to every athlete, whether it be a Pro-Bowler or a high school athlete.”
Woodfin worked for the Packers for three years, leaving the organization after 2013 season. In February of 2014, Woodfin was hired back at his alma mater, UAB, to become the head strength and conditioning coach. At the time of his hiring, UAB finished the previous season 2-10. The Blazers were looking for a spark and Woodfin provided it.
The turnaround was valid and rapid. During Woodfin’s first and lone season for UAB, the team went 6-6 and was bowl-eligible for only the second time in school history. However, UAB President Ray Watts abolished the football program due to great controversy.
After serving one year at UAB, Woodfin came to Southern Miss as the Strength and Conditioning coach. Woodfin was named the 2014 Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year by FootballScoop.com.
“My goal for right now is just where can I be used the most,” Woodfin said. “That’s my goal right now is just to listen to my heart and it said Southern Miss for the players.”
Several players on the Southern Miss football team look bigger and the defense looks swifter. USM will look to return to its glory days of prominence in college football following 1-11 and 3-10 seasons under head coach Todd Monken.
“Hopefully through just culture change, a mindset shift… mediocrity is not acceptable”, Woodfin said. “I think what I’ve been able to bring here is the methods and the principles of such a first-class organization (Green Bay Packers) and the highest level you can do it.”
Now with the spring game and summer underway, the Southern Miss football team will not only look for Woodfin’s leadership in the weight room but on the field as well.