The 2012 Texas A&M football team finished the season with an 11-2 record, a top five national rank and multiple national award winners on the team. The secret to their sudden success after a disappointing 7-6 record in 2011 was the arrival of strength and conditioning coach Larry Jackson.
Jackson's strength and conditioning program prepared the Aggies for the rigors of the Southeastern Conference. He got the Ags in the peak physical condition required to run Kevin Sumlin's fast-paced offense.
In 2011 the Ags lost five games in which they held large halftime leads. Many pundits placed the blame on a lack of conditioning. Sumlin brought Jackson with him from Houston, where he ran the Cougars' strength and conditioning program.
Jackson immediately changed the focus of the Aggies' workouts. He emphasized workouts that would build power and endurance in the core and hips of the football players.
The results on the field were obvious in 2012 as the Ags appeared to have more endurance as a team than they had in 2011. Texas A&M used their fast-paced offense to jump on opponents early and put the game away. The Aggies outscored their opponents 357 to 115 in the first half in 2012.
On defense the players' conditioning stood out. When A&M played Louisiana Tech in a game that lasted over four hours, some of the starters on the defense line, like Spencer Nealy and Damontre Moore, played all 100 defensive snaps.
A well-conditioned team has fewer injuries. When players get tired, they tend to play with poor technique and become more susceptible to injuries. The Aggies suffered only one major injury in 2012, when starting safety Steven Campbell was lost due to concussions.
You cannot accomplish these feats without being in peak physical condition, and the credit for that resides with Jackson. He added his input to the design of the Davis Player Development Center, which is now one of the finest weight rooms in the country.
The strength and conditioning program is the foundation of a football team. In one year, Jackson has built a solid foundation for the Aggie program. The Aggie football players are confident when they take the field because they know they are the best-conditioned team on the field.
Jackson's successes could be seen at the Aggies' Pro Day, where the football players who were eligible for the draft were tested and went through drills for NFL scouts.
Jackson is the man behind all of the wins on the football field and the stellar performances in front of the NFL scouts. But there are many ingredients required to build a successful football program.
You need great coaches, good athletes, the facilities to attract top-notch recruits and a strength and conditioning coach who will mold those recruits into elite football players on the field. In Jackson, the Aggies have one of the top strength coaches in the country. As long as he is in Aggieland, the Texas A&M football team will remain one of the best in the country.