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Michigan promotes Justin Tress to strength and conditioning coach

Michigan filled this void swiftly.

Syndication: Detroit Free Press Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

With strength and conditioning coach Ben Herbert headed to the Los Angeles Chargers to join former Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh’s staff, the Michigan Wolverines acted fast and named a replacement.

Michigan decided to stay in-house and announced Justin Tress is taking over as strength and conditioning coach. Tress has been with the program since 2018. The Wolverines also announced that director of performance nutrition Abigail O’Connor will remain with the program.

The full announcement below includes quotes from Michigan head coach Sherrone Moore, Ben Herbert, Tress, and O’Connor.

University of Michigan J. Ira and Nicki Harris Family Head Football Coach Sherrone Moore announced Monday (Jan. 29) the hiring of Justin Tress as the program’s Director of Strength and Conditioning. Tress takes over for his long-time mentor, Ben Herbert. In addition, Moore announced that the team’s Director of Performance Nutrition, Abigail O’Connor, will remain with the program.

“I am honored to represent the football program in this new role and appreciate Coach Sherrone Moore’s belief in my abilities and Coach Herbert’s endorsement,” said Tress. “It means a great deal to have both of these leaders showing faith in me and my abilities as a strength coach.

“I look forward to leading the strength and conditioning program with an exceptionally talented group of coaches,” added Tress. “We will continue to work together to develop our student-athletes’ bodies and minds for the field of competition. The roadmap has been created and we will work hard to pursue outstanding results in the weight room, with the goal of putting our players in the best position to succeed on the football field.”

“I am excited that both Justin and Abigail will remain an integral part of our program,” said Moore. “They have been key ingredients in our success, and we look forward to their leadership as we move forward as a program. Justin is being passed the torch by his long-time mentor, Ben Herbert, and we know Justin, the strength staff and their work with Abigail will continue to be a centerpiece of our player development. The collective and collaborative work done by our strength staff, nutrition staff and athletic training staff has been critical to the championship culture that exists in Schembechler Hall.

“I have known Coach Tress since 2014 and have worked in lockstep with him since 2017,” said Herbert. “For the past seven years Justin and I have worked side-by-side through the highest of highs and lowest of lows. I have never once seen his commitment to me or to Michigan Football waiver. Justin is an incredible representation of intelligence, consistency and commitment. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that he will continue to build upon the legacy we have established with Michigan Football.”

“Any time there is transition, great people make decisions that are in the best interest of their family,” added Moore. “We appreciate all that Coach Herb did for the program and wish him well in his next coaching opportunity. He developed a great staff that remains together in Ann Arbor. We know this group will flourish.”

Tress has spent the last six years (2018-present) as a member of the Michigan Football Strength and Conditioning staff, including the 2023 season as the team’s associate director. He also spent two years as a member of Herbert’s staff at Arkansas before joining the Wolverines’ staff. Prior to working with the Razorbacks, Tress was a member of the University of Alabama strength and conditioning staff when the program played in the CFP National Championship Game, winning the title in 2015 while losing in the 2016 contest.

Tress, 28, is a former defensive back at Kent State. He earned his degree in exercise science from Kent State in 2015. A native of Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, Tress attended Blackhawk High School where he was a captain and earned all-conference honors. He was a three-year letterman in football and two-year letterman in track and field.

O’Connor has been Michigan Football’s Director of Performance Nutrition for the past six seasons (2018-present) and will continue her role as the program’s leader in that area. O’Connor worked at the University of Houston (2016-17) and spent the 2017 season as the football dietitian at the University of Minnesota before joining the Wolverines’ staff.

She graduated with a master’s degree in nutrition sciences from Texas A&M University in 2015 after receiving her undergraduate degree in biology from Southwestern University in 2013. O’Connor is a board-certified specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD) and a registered dietitian (RD/RDN).

“I walked inside these doors of Schembechler Hall with Justin Tress and Sherrone Moore in 2018 and have worked closely with them ever since,” said O’Connor. “Fostering the development of our student-athletes is something that has always been a priority of this program and I am confident that we will continue to be elite in that area under all of our leadership.”