Shannon Turley making early impact with CU Buffs

New director of strength and conditioning excited to be in Boulder

Shannon Turley was hired as Colorado's director of strength and conditioning in January.
Stanford Photo
Shannon Turley was hired as Colorado’s director of strength and conditioning in January.

As the strength and conditioning coordinator at Stanford for several years, Shannon Turley worked with numerous athletes.

He had no idea that coaching a walk-on freshman in 2013 would help him land a new job at some point.

In January, Turley was hired by Colorado head football coach Karl Dorrell as the Buffaloes’ director of strength and conditioning. Also on CU’s staff is Dorrell’s son, Chandler, the Buffs’ assistant director of player personnel.

The Dorrells met Turley during a recruiting trip in 2013 and Chandler spent that season as a Stanford walk-on.

“I think it was a big reason why we wanted to potentially bring him here,” Chandler told “I’ve just always felt strongly about the man that he is, the work that he does.”

Turley was the director of sports performance at Stanford from 2007-19 before being fired in April of 2019 for undisclosed reasons. He was named the strength and conditioning coach of the year in 2011. In 2013, the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) named him the college strength and conditioning coach of the year.

This week, Turley was interviewed on the CU athletic department-produced Buffalo Stampede show, and spoke about the opportunity to work in Boulder and be reacquainted with the Dorrells.

“It’s a great opportunity,” he said. “I had the chance to meet the (Dorrell) family in the recruiting process. In that role my involvement was more on campus and getting a chance to speak about our program, tour the facilities. … I think that’s really where it all started, and having the privilege of coaching Chandler. He’s a committed guy, hard working, detailed. You can see where he picked up some of these traits.”

Many involved with the Stanford program have credited Turley with helping to establish a winning culture. Chandler Dorrell said he felt that in his one season with the Cardinal (he transferred to Vanderbilt in 2014 after his father was hired there).

“That team that I was on, we went to the Rose Bowl and had quite a few good football players that were just unbelievably disciplined,” Chandler Dorrell said. “Walking into that environment as a freshman and a walk-on freshman at that, you are really forced to absorb as much of that as possible.

“It’s great to see a leadership group of seniors that know what they’re doing have been to four BCS bowls in a row. Seeing that my freshman year, along with Coach Turley’s training, really, I think, gave me a perspective of what it’s got to look like. There’s no secret to it.”

Turley has been on the job for about a month at CU and he’s trying to establish a similar culture with the Buffs.

“There’s a lot of challenges and a lot of opportunities,” he said on the Buffalo Stampede show. “In a new situation for me, I’ve got to learn how we do it here, and what are those principles at the foundation of the philosophy that coach Dorrell wants to impart in the team? Then, echo and spread that message and do it with a level of authenticity about myself. Coach Dorrell and I share that same passion for attention to detail and a systematic approach to everything, in the way that we teach and want to instill that in our players and install that, if you will, in our program.

“I’ve tried to be very patient the first couple of weeks here, but the expectations for our players are rising every day.”

During the past month, Chandler Dorrell has watched Turley work, and it reminded him of his year at Stanford.

“Oh yeah, it’s the same stuff; exact same stuff,” Chandler Dorrell said. “(At Stanford), I walked into it when it was fully up and running. They had had that success, they had that leadership group and they knew the expectations. So, there will be a process of creating those expectations on our team, but that’s begun. I’ve already seen some pretty big strides that we’ve made as a team, even in the month that he’s been here.

“We’re excited for the future here and really just excited for our guys to have someone of his caliber molding them from freshman year.”

Turley has been renowned for his approach to strength and conditioning. While lifting weights and cardiovascular work are essential, Turley focuses on the players’ mindset, as well as injury prevention, nutrition, etc.

“We’ve tried to create a very comprehensive approach to our sports performance program and be more than just strength and conditioning,” he said. “As it’s evolved, you have to be able to cross over into other areas of expertise. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to lean on experts in sports nutrition and sports medicine and sports psychology. … That’s critically important to that holistic approach that you need to be comprehensive in a player development program.”

Chandler Dorrell hasn’t forgotten what he learned from Turley several years ago, and Turley is looking forward to making a similar impact on CU’s players.

“That’s what I love most about collegiate athletics is being able to have that tremendous impact,” he said. “They’re still at a very malleable age, and they’re impressionable, and they are growing, and they’re learning and they’re adapting. They’re very sponge-like, if you will, and they want to soak in all that you have to teach. That’s really what I consider myself is more of a teacher than a coach. I’m trying to teach life lessons and life skills through football.”