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Brian Howell’s Rewind (Aug. 3, 2021)

Shannon Turley making an impact in first offseason with Colorado

Shannon Turley was the director of sports performance at Stanford from 2007-19.
Stanford Photo
Shannon Turley was the director of sports performance at Stanford from 2007-19.

Throughout his first 12 seasons as a coach at Stanford – including eight as head coach – David Shaw worked with Shannon Turley.

In that time, Shaw got an up-close look at the impact Turley had on the Cardinal. As the director of sports performance, Turley was one of the key figures in Stanford’s success, helping them go 94-27 from 2010-18, with three Pac-12 titles in that stretch.

STANFORD, CALIFORNIA – NOVEMBER 14: Head coaches Karl Dorrell of the Colorado Buffaloes and David Shaw of the Stanford Cardinal greet each other at mid field during warm ups prior to the start of their NCAA football game at Stanford Stadium on November 14, 2020 in Stanford, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

It’s now been more than two years since Shaw and Turley worked together. Turley was fired by Stanford in April of 2019 for undisclosed reasons. It was a decision that went above Shaw and, according to many around the Cardinal football program, was not a decision well received by Shaw and the players.

Shaw is now entering his 11th season as the head coach at Stanford, while Turley has returned to the Pac-12. He was hired by Colorado in January to be the new director of strength and conditioning.

Last week at Pac-12 media day at the W Hollywood Hotel in Hollywood, Calif., I caught up with Shaw to ask about Turley joining the Buffs this year and the impact he could make.

“That’s the biggest thing is Shannon Turley is really good at building the foundations of a program,” Shaw told me. “So, making sure the guys are strong, making sure the guys are developing. That’s the reason why I talked to (CU head coach Karl Dorrell) before he hired Shannon and gave him a high recommendation that he would be a great asset to their program.”

I followed up by asking Shaw if he’s interested to see what Turley can do with the CU program and he didn’t hesitate to say, “I already know the way it’s gonna go. There’s only one way it goes. The guys get bigger, faster, stronger.”

In this edition of the Rewind, we’ll look at the impact Turley has made in just a few short months on the job. Also in this edition:

  • Dorrell restructures “front office”
  • Recruiting pitches from Landman, Stanley
  • A few notes

Early returns: Turley making mark on Buffs

Drew Wilson spent five years leading the strength and conditioning program for the Buffs and he worked for three head coaches in that time. Players often had high praise for Wilson’s work and there were positive results on the field, including two bowl appearances in his five seasons.

University of Colorado Athletics
Shannon Turley is beginning his first year as the Colorado Buffaloes’ director of strength and conditioning in football. (University of Colorado Athletics)

The transition to Shannon Turley has paid off in the early going, however. While in Hollywood last week, I asked receiver Dimitri Stanley and linebacker Nate Landman about their new strength and conditioning coordinator.

“He is a breath of fresh air, honestly,” Stanley said. “A guy that really knows what he’s doing. Not that Drew didn’t know what he was doing, but it’s just different.”

Turley was highly respected during his time at Stanford for his approach. Of course, lifting weights and cardiovascular work are involved, but Turley puts a heavy emphasis on mental health, injury prevention and nutrition.

“It’s kind of more focused on like the little muscles,” Stanley said. “It’s kind of more focused on how your body feels, making sure your body is at peak performance. I like that, more than just kind of getting under the bar and squatting heavy, cleaning heavy. I just like focusing more on your body. I think that’s more beneficial to me. I think I’ve seen changes in growth.”

Landman, who has spent the offseason recovering from a ruptured Achilles’ tendon, said Turley has played a significant role in getting him ready for preseason camp, which starts this week.

“Not only physically but just in the mental aspect, too,” Landman said. “I think he’s got great leadership qualities.”

Landman said that in the early going, Turley came in demanded respect from the players and now that he’s got it, “He’s starting to loosen up.”

Stanley and Landman aren’t alone in their positive reviews of Turley.

“I haven’t heard one person say one bad thing about Turley,” Landman said. “We all love him and he’s here for the right reasons. He’s one of the winningest people in the Pac-12. That’s a sign of what he’s done and what he can do.”

Coming off a significant injury, Landman said he feels great going into camp, and gives some credit to Turley.

Colorado linebackers Nate Landman, center, and Mister Williams watch spring practice on March 31, 2021.

“He’s definitely taken a lead on my rehab and helped me get back so it’s kind of been a blessing,” Landman said. “It’s kind of a match made in heaven when it happened, and for him to come in. Turley’s a great guy and I see him being a part of this program for a long time. What he’s doing will make a big difference.”

Dorrell echoed his players in saying that Turley has already made a difference in his first offseason in Boulder.

“He has a great reputation of developing players,” Dorrell said. “That’s where Colorado is right now; it’s about developing our players. We feel like we have the right person in that respect that’s doing that.

“Shannon’s a great teacher about, ‘We’re doing things this way because this is how we play the game.’ That gave them buy-in about the way we train; it’s for mobility, for flexibility, for being able to move people horizontally and not really do a lot of the Olympic type of training. That’s really how the game of football is being played. I think we’ve come a long way from that standpoint

“He’s instantly having credibility with our players. I can see the results in our players already in watching them train, what they look like physically. There’s a lot of respect for what Shannon has done in such a short period of time. … The team really believes in everything that he’s been teaching them from a development standpoint. It’s been a positive to have him on board, leading that area, because our team is gaining confidence knowing that they’re physically better than what they were a year ago.”

Structure change: Dorrell resets leadership

Dorrell made another set of moves this offseason he hopes will make a positive impact on the program.

This summer, CU reshaped the roles of Bob Lopez and Lance Carl, who will both work with Dorrell in managing the football program.

Hired last year as director of player personnel, Lopez was named the football program’s general manager this summer.

“I would say the GM works more with me, in regards to the facets of running our organization: hiring, who are the prospects out there, the training aspect of personnel,” Dorrell said. “He would represent me in all of (athletic director Rick George’s) meetings when I’m dealing with football. He’s like the overseer underneath me when I’m not available, so I’m training Bob to do all those things.”

Lopez will also still supervise Chandler Dorrell, who has moved into the role of director of player personnel, and assistant Andy Wang.

“That position is really just running the operation, running the entire football program from recruiting to administrative things to the football side of it,” George said. “It’s looking at what we have as a football department, and what we need, and being able to really take a lot of that off of Karl so Karl can focus on football and recruiting. I think it’s a good role for (Lopez).”

Carl, meanwhile, has moved out of his role as associate athletic director for business development and will focus solely on football. Formerly the football sports supervisor, Carl now has the title of director of player development and alumni relations.

“Lance is going to be more dealing with the player wellness piece of making sure they transition well to campus,” Dorrell said. “Student conduct; if there’s issues, he deals with that. And also mental health and all the different support area mechanisms we have that are for student-athletes. Lance is the facilitator to help our players utilize those resources.”

BOULDER, CO – November 7, 2020: Colorado associate athletic director Lance Carl (center) and University of Colorado football team take the field for it’s season opener against UCLA at Folsom Field. (University of Colorado Athletics)

Carl will also interact with alumni and have a hand in recruiting, as well.

“He’s going to be embedded in football,” George said. “He’ll be more a part of their staff. A lot of it will be involved in recruiting, because he’s really good at articulating our vision and what the value of CU and CU athletics is, so I think it’s a great role for him.”

Lopez and Carl will work hand-in-hand in leading a lot of the aspects of the program, but George said, “Karl is still the CEO. That’s his program, so it’s just the way that he wanted to structure it.”

Dorrell believes the new structure will give him a better opportunity to know his team and prepare them for success.

“It allows me to be more … I call it reading the tea leaves of the team better,” he said. “I can be in and around the team more, really figuring out what our issues are and where are the things that we need to continue to grow in and what things we need to continue to cut out. It gives me a chance to get a great pulse of the team and study them.”

Lance Gerlach, CU’s senior associate athletic director/assistant vice chancellor advancement, and Josh Repine, a former walk-on basketball player now on staff, will work together in handling some of the non-football duties Lance Carl used to handle. Those duties include scheduling concerts at Folsom Field, working with CU’s partners at Learfield and coordinating non-game day events.

To further display an emphasis on football, CU also added several other positions on staff, mostly in recruiting.

“Karl and I sat down and said, ‘What do we need to beef up our recruiting?’” George said. “We know we’ve got to recruit; we’ve got to recruit at a high level to be elite. He and I sat down and he walked me through what his vision was, and we were able to make that come to reality.”

Recruiting pitch

A reporter at media day gave CU some great material to use in recruiting by simply asking Nate Landman and Dimitri Stanley what they would tell recruits about the school and Boulder.

“I think Boulder has got everything that you need to be successful,” said Landman, who came to CU from Danville, Calif. “The amount of support I get from the Boulder community and even the Denver community in all of Colorado is huge. The end goal of going to college is to be successful in college and go to the league. For me, we’re not Alabama, but I have still accomplished my dream going to CU. I think it’s a great school and somewhere I can see myself living and being a part of the community for a long time. I think CU’s just got so much to offer, not only as an athlete but for academics and just being a human being.”

Colorado linebacker Nate Landman and receiver Dimitri Stanley on Tuesday at Pac-12 Media Day in Hollywood, Calif.

Landman added that his love of the outdoors played a big role in his decision to come to CU.

“There’s something for everybody,” he said. “We have all walks of life on our team and they all love Boulder and I think that’s something huge to say. For me personally, it’s the outdoor stuff and being able to get out and if I do need that break from football or a little getaway, I do have that option.”

Stanley is a Colorado native and the Cherry Creek High School graduate had plenty of good to say about his home state and the football program.

“I think a lot of people overlook Colorado just because it’s not a big school – like Nate said, like an Alabama, any of those SEC schools – but it’s definitely somewhere that you can call home and build off of, to be the best player you can be,” he said. “I think being at Colorado, you can still compare yourself to people in the SEC or the ACC and kind of just keep growing and keep competing. At the end of the day, I see myself competing against those guys when I step across from those Utahs or ASUs or USCs, just because I know at the next level that’s the way it’s gonna have to be.”

This and that: A few quotes and notes from media day

  • With Texas and Oklahoma in the process of moving from the Big 12 to the SEC, there is plenty of speculation about what dominoes could fall. George said he and CU are pleased to be in the Pac-12. “I’d like to win more championships and we will moving forward, but I like where we’re at,” he said. “It’s a great fit for us. We’ve got a lot of like institutions, and with 30,000 living alumni on the West Coast, it makes a lot of sense. With the new commissioner and his leadership, our best days are ahead of us.”
  • Landman feels like more of a complete linebacker than in the past but said that in looking towards the NFL in 2022, “I just want to keep on the steady improve. I felt I came in a good linebacker and now I would classify as an even better linebacker. It’s been going up each year, so just keep stepping up. Even in the run game, I’ve got stuff to improve on, the pass game I’ve got to improve on. You can never stop getting better at your craft.”
  • Stanley works with offensive coordinator/receivers coach Darrin Chiaverini every day, but also has the luxury of having a head coach who is a long-time receivers coach. “Honestly, there’s nothing like it,” Stanley said. “I think it’s unbeatable to have a head coach that was a receiver coach. I kind of get a chance to get in the office with him to pick his brain a little bit about what he knows and experiences that he’s gone through or tips and tricks to being the best player that I can be. I can just kind of take what he’s told me and spread it down to the younger guys in the receiver room. It’s definitely cool having a receiver coach as a head coach. … He’s definitely a really passionate coach about what he does.”

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