Kansas State is in the market for a new strength and conditioning coach.
Chris Dawson, who has served in the role since 2010, now will serve in the same capacity at UCF. The school officially announced Dawson’s hire Friday. The news was first reported by Yahoo Sports national college football reporter Pete Thamel.
Dawson joins the first-year staff of Gus Malzahn, the former Auburn head coach. UCF hired Malzahn on Monday.
During his time at K-State, Dawson managed the athletics department’s entire strength program, while specifically providing daily guidance for the football team. The Wildcats made seven bowl appearances during Dawson’s tenure.
Former K-State football head coach Bill Snyder hired Dawson in January 2010. Following Snyder’s retirement in December 2018, new head coach Chris Klieman retained Dawson — one of the few holdovers from the Snyder era, which included assistant coaches (and former K-State players) Blake Seiler and Collin Klein. (Seiler, who was the Wildcats’ defensive coordinator in 2018, was set to be the defensive ends coach under Klieman before departing to become West Virginia’s linebackers coach in February 2019.)
The Wildcats have had 39 players selected in the NFL draft dating back to Dawson’s first year in 2010; 10 of those players went within the draft’s first two rounds. Friday wasn’t the first time during Dawson’s time in Manhattan that he’s been linked to other openings, though. Washington State once had shown interest. And last year, he interviewed for the same position at Alabama. After that, K-State upped his annually salary to $400,000.
Dawson arrived at K-State immediately after a six-year run (2003-09) as the head strength coach for Kansas’ football program, working on then-head coach Mark Mangino’s staff. Dawson worked in Lawrence during the last run of success for the Jayhawks’ football program. From 2003 to 2009, KU won at least six games five times and made four bowl appearances. The highlight came in 2007, when the Jayhawks went 12-1, capped by an Orange Bowl victory over Virginia Tech.
Dawson was awarded the National Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year Award by the Professional Football Strength and Conditioning Coaches Society following KU’s stellar 2007 campaign.
Prior to his time at Kansas, Dawson was the University of Minnesota football program’s head strength and conditioning coach for two seasons (2001-02). His stint at Minnesota came on the heels of five years at his alma mater, Oklahoma, where he worked with the Sooners’ football and men’s basketball teams.
Dawson was a linebacker for the Sooners from 1992 to 1994. He received both his bachelor’s degree (in 1995) and master’s (in 1999) from Oklahoma.
After his playing career ended, Dawson went into the strength and conditioning field.
He had a pair of internships at the professional level, working with the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys for two months and the XFL’s Las Vegas Outlaws for three months, before returning to work at Oklahoma in 1996.