Ray "Rock" Oliver rejoins UK strength staff

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Ray “Rock” Oliver, a former strength coach with the University of Kentucky and Cincinnati Bengals, has returned to Lexington as the director of strength and conditioning for the UK football team, Coach Joker Phillips has announced.

Phillips also has announced the appointment of Ted Lambrinides (pronounced lam-brin-EE-des), a long-time fitness professional with a broad range of experience in the field, as assistant strength and conditioning coach.

“I’m excited about having great teachers who have a wealth of experience and knowledge of the business as our strength coaches,” Phillips said. “I’ve stayed in touch with Rock since he was here at UK. He’s a great motivator, with the ability to get the best out of the kids, and has the toughness we’re continuing to develop on our team.

“In addition to his work in strength and conditioning, Ted has extensive knowledge in speed training and experience in getting players ready for college and NFL combines.”

Oliver’s history includes terms in football and basketball on the collegiate and professional levels. He spent the last six seasons as the associate strength and conditioning coach with the Cincinnati Bengals and has been head S/C coach with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He has additional pro experience with the New Jersey Nets of the National Basketball Association.

On the collegiate level, Oliver has been the strength and conditioning coach with football and/or basketball teams at Kansas, Pittsburgh, UK, South Carolina and Memphis. He was at UK from 1989-92, working with the Wildcat basketball team.

An interesting note on Oliver is his long history with current UK men’s basketball coach John Calipari. They first met at Kansas when Calipari was an assistant coach and continued at Pittsburgh, the New Jersey Nets and Memphis. Oliver was the head strength coach for Calipari and the Nets in 1996-97 and at Memphis from 2001-03 before going home to the Bengals.

A native of Cincinnati, Oliver was a defensive back at Ohio State in 1980-81 before transferring to the University of Cincinnati. While sitting out the ’82 season as a transfer, he became interested in strength training under then-UC Coach Mike Gottfried.

When Gottfried moved to the University of Kansas in 1983, Oliver transferred to Kansas and began working as a strength and conditioning coach while completing his degree.

“To leave the NFL would have to be for a place that is special in my heart,” Oliver said. “That’s what this place is to me and my family and it’s special because of the people.

“I knew Joker was going to do very, very well because everything I saw in great head coaches, you saw in him at a young stage. I’ve been watching his growth and development over the years. He loves the state of Kentucky and I love it, too.

“We kept in touch and we’ve always talked about the possibility, when he became a head coach, of us working together,” Oliver continued. “When Joker called about me coming here, I knew the call was coming and had already thought about it. You want to be at a place where you have people you believe in. I believe in what he’s doing. We’re going to do it and we’re going to do it the right way. We’re going to build an army, but this army isn’t going to wear the traditional green fatigues. It will be wearing blue and white.”

Like Oliver, Lambrinides is a native of Cincinnati. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Ohio State, where he began his career as a student assistant and graduate assistant strength and conditioning coach. Lambrinides and Oliver first met at OSU and have been associates for three decades.

After OSU, Lambrinides worked as director of education for two fitness companies, Nautilus Midwest and Hammer Strength Corporation. In 2001, Lambrinides began his own enterprise as owner and president of High Performance Training, Inc. His business has expanded to three training centers in the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area. He has been involved extensively in helping potential NFL players train for the league combine and other evaluation events.

Lambrinides, a member of the NCAA Speakers Bureau, has been a consultant and guest speaker for a variety of topics, including strength training, conditioning and sports nutrition. His clients have featured NFL teams such as Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Jacksonville, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington and Carolina; the Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors of the NBA; and several universities, including Boston College, Florida, Michigan, Michigan State, Indiana, Stanford, Marquette, Penn State, Navy and Army.

Since 1991, Lambrinides also has been a lecturer and coordinator of the exercise science program at Thomas More College in Crestview Hills, Ky.

“The opportunity to work with Coach Phillips, his passion and his vision for the program, and the staff he has assembled (brings me to Kentucky),” Lambrinides said. “My relationship with Coach Oliver and the support of the administration and fans (were also part of the decision). This program is ready to make the next step and that’s what makes this so attractive.”

“I have the best assistant strength coach in the country,” Oliver said. “Ted’s the smartest guy in the profession, a ‘Doogie Howser’ type. He’s a guy that strength coaches in college football, and a lot of the pro strength coaches, call when they have questions about things. He’s an enormous asset.”

Conner, Lindley in Saturday’s Senior Bowl: Fullback John Conner and cornerback Trevard Lindley will play in the Senior Bowl, which will be held Saturday, Jan. 30 at 4 p.m. EST at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala., and will be televised by the NFL Network.

Conner showed a versatile array of talents during his time at UK as a punishing blocker, capable ball carrier, reliable receiver and special teams stalwart. Used primarily as a blocker, he rushed for 254 yards and four touchdowns as a Wildcat. His average of 4.6 yards per carry is an excellent number for a fullback. He also caught 25 passes for 147 yards and four TDs. He played in a school-record 54 games.

Lindley started all 48 games in which he played during his Kentucky career. He totaled 189 tackles, 10 interceptions and a school-record 43 pass breakups during his time as a Wildcat. Lindley specialized in big plays during his career, as seven of his 10 interceptions were key plays in UK victories and an eighth pickoff helped send a game into overtime. He had two interception returns for touchdowns during his career and also had a fumble return for a TD in a Wildcat comeback victory.

Lindley is the 30th Wildcat to accept an invitation to the Senior Bowl, which is in its 61st year.

Duncan, Smith in Texas vs. the Nation Game: Offensive lineman Zipp Duncan and tailback Alfonso Smith will play in the Texas vs. the Nation all-star game, slated for Saturday, Feb. 6 at 2 p.m. EST in Sun Bowl Stadium in El Paso, Texas.

The game will be televised by the CBS College Sports cable channel. It is sponsored by the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Duncan was a second-team All-Southeastern Conference pick as a senior by SEC coaches and Phil Steele’s College Football. He started every game of the last three seasons, 39 consecutive starts, at left tackle, left guard and right guard. Duncan helped the Wildcats roll up a school-record 475 points during the 2007 season and the Wildcats ranked among the nation’s leaders in fewest quarterback sacks and fewest tackles for loss allowed in 2008 and ’09.

Smith is known for his blazing speed, having run the 40-yard dash in as fast as 4.24 seconds on the 2009 Pro Day. He rushed for 957 yards and eight touchdowns during his Kentucky career and caught 30 passes for 322 yards and two TDs. Smith also was a stalwart on special teams, making 28 tackles in kick coverage while averaging 22.5 yards on kickoff returns.

Texas vs. the Nation is in its fourth year of existence. Duncan and Smith will be the third and fourth Wildcats to participate in the event.

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