Montana State Bobcats football

Sean Herrin was hired as Montana State's director of football strength and conditioning.

BOZEMAN — When Brent Vigen began speaking during Montana State’s media day, the head coach first recognized the expectations his team faces. Then he thanked someone he hopes will help the Bobcats make those hopes reality.

Throughout fall camp, Vigen has repeatedly credited Sean Herrin, MSU’s director of strength and conditioning. Herrin, who is in his first year on the job, was tasked with building up the players’ fitness heading into the season after having not played for two years.

“The work (the players) put in with him in June and July,” Vigen said, “not only from a strength and conditioning perspective, but he really challenged them mentally, and I really appreciate their efforts through the course of our summer.”

Vigen said it’s “undeniable” the Bobcats could gain an advantage late in games because of conditioning. That difference, though, is “hard to quantify.”

Vigen has worked with multiple strength and conditioning coaches through previous stops at Wyoming and North Dakota State. He values Herrin for his “blend of the art and science” in strength training.

Though Vigen inherited a staff with Herrin on it, Vigen said the two “see things very much the same.” They believe in forcing players to overcome challenges on the practice field and in the weight room together. Then games become comparably manageable.

Herrin’s previous experience with the program as a consultant also allowed for an easier transition. He had worked with players in preparation for MSU’s pro days in the past.

“He knew the guys and put his own spin,” Vigen said, “and I really appreciate how that’s looked.”

Brent Vigen MSU Football

Montana State head coach Brent Vigen speaks at a press conference Aug. 5 at Brick Breeden Fieldhouse.

Herrin is from Helena and played football at Carroll College. Before MSU, he worked with a range of athletes, from elementary schoolers to world-ranked Olympians and NFL first-round draft picks.

He managed and directed athletic performance programs at The Pitt Training Facility, which is run by former Bobcats all-American and NFL player Dane Fletcher, since July 2016.

Herrin also served as a consultant with MSU for three years. Previous Bobcats head coach Jeff Choate was impressed with Herrin’s knowledge.

This spring, Bobcats running backs coach Jimmy Beal complimented Herrin for his emphasis on functional movement and ensuring the players fuel properly. This led to them staving off injuries. At several other positions, MSU may rely mostly on their starters, so conditioning will eventually be pivotal if that’s the case.

Vigen has been content with the tempo the Bobcats have practiced at during fall camp. He noticed after the first day.

“You could just tell guys weren’t having to slow down,” Vigen said. “Last offseason was a bigger roller coaster than anything from a physical conditioning perspective, and now we’ve had three months leading up to this and it showed.”

Montana State head football coach Brent Vigen talks during a press conference for MSU fall camp media day Thursday at Brick Breeden Fieldhouse in Bozeman. 

In 2008, Herrin fulfilled an internship with Velocity Sports Performance in Redmond, Washington. After graduating from Carroll, Herrin was a strength and conditioning specialist at Granite Health and Fitness in Billings from 2009-11. At the same time, he was an assistant coach for the Billings Outlaws indoor football team.

Herrin, following a move to California, interned for UCLA’s strength and conditioning staff in 2011 and for Athletes’ Performance in 2012.

He was a strength and conditioning coach at Woodrow Wilson Classical High School in Long Beach in the summer of 2012, then became a sports performance director at Velocity Sports’ Redondo Beach, California, location. Then in 2016, he returned to Montana.

Herrin replaced Alex Willcox, who resigned in November, at MSU in December.

“As a kid, I saw the benefits of training to an extent that it got me a college scholarship,” Herrin said in a press release when he was hired, “and I’m the first one in my family to go to college, so it means a lot to me. I believe the benefits of training can change people’s lives, and not just in a sense of getting somebody a college scholarship. The process of it teaches things that people take with them their whole lives.”

Vigen said the Bobcats are trying to maintain body weight and strength throughout fall camp, which comes with an emphasis on eating well. The Bobcats coaches are also monitoring body movements, speeds and work loads. He added this time is especially important for the team’s freshmen, who are still acclimating to the program and the work it requires.

Herrin, Vigen said, has been in charge of those efforts.

“Huge,” Vigen said of Herrin’s impact. “That will carry us through the next five months. … We’re stronger, but we’re so much better conditioned. I think that attention to detail aspect of what he brought this summer has certainly shown up, too. I think there’s no doubt about that.”

Colton Pool can be reached at cpool@dailychronicle.com or 406-582-2690. Follow him on Twitter @CPoolReporter.

Load comments