Sep 12, 2023A strength coach’s contribution to an NFL Hall of Famer
It’s what every strength coach strives for—watching the student-athletes they work with develop and maximize their athletic career and receive the type of recognition the athlete dreamed about.
Kelly Neuhauser got to experience this recently, and not from a distance. He was there to see it first-hand.
The athlete was DeMarcus Ware, and the recognition was enshrinement last month in the NFL Hall of Fame. Neuhauser was there to share in the moment. Ware invited Neuhauser to Canton as a way to say thank you for all that he did to shape his career as one of the pro football’s all-time greats.
Prior to his current role as a National Athletics Sales Specialist at Matrix Fitness, Neuhauser enjoyed a successful career as a strength & conditioning coach, including time at four years as the Head Strength Coach at Georgia Southern University. In the winter of 2005, Neuhauser was working at a private training facility and was asked by well-known football agent Pat Dye Jr. to train an aspiring outside linebacker before the major step in his pro career: his attendance at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.
Ware had just finished his college career at Troy University. He had been invited to the combine, and needed to prepare for it while finishing up his degree at Troy. Not only did Ware need to master the different drills he would be put through at the combine, he also was looking to increase his weight from 235 to 250 lbs. and improve his speed and quickness.
“DeMarcus had a great strength coach at Troy in Richard Shaughnessy. I was asked to help him get ready for the combine and improve his measurables to what is needed to be an outside pass rusher in the NFL,” Neuhauser said. “I helped him improve his number of bench-press reps, his times for the 40-yard dash, the 5-10 and L drills and the 60-yard shuttle, and his height on the vertical jump—all the drills he would go through in Indianapolis.
You could see right away that he had the potential to be a star in the NFL. His athletic skills just needed to be refined.”
Neuhauser worked with Ware twice a day during the three months leading up to the combine, feeding off Ware’s tremendous work ethic. All of the work paid off and then some. Ware was selected with the 11th pick in the 2005 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys.
Ware went on to earn eight Pro Bowl selections and was named All-Pro four times. He became the Cowboy’s all-time sack leader, and helped the Denver Broncos to a Super Bowl championship in 2015.
Ware knew Neuhauser did so much to begin his path to NFL enshrinement. He expressed his gratitude the best way possible: He invited Kelly and his family to be in Canton for the entire Hall of Fame Weekend.
“What DeMarcus did was just first-class,” Neuhauser said. “We took part in all of the events and parties in Canton around his enshrinement. For someone who is a true football guy, it was like being in heaven. My family and I had the chance to be shoulder-to-shoulder with so many of the best people in the game, past and present.
“DeMarcus wanted to remember his roots and all of the people who helped him get to Hall of Fame, and for me to share this moment with him was extremely gratifying. DeMarcus is not just an amazing athlete, he’s an amazing person—a Hall of Famer in all areas. I will forever be grateful for the connection that I have with him.”