Former HP wrestler and NFL linebacker looks to strengthen rebuilding franchise
From his beginnings as a wrestling state champion at Highland Park to his career as an NFL linebacker to his entrepreneurial ventures in the private sector, Anthony Schlegel has never lost his passion for helping athletes reach their peak.
Now the Park Cities native is back in professional football as the new head strength and conditioning coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The job reunites him with first-year Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer. Schlegel served four years as an assistant strength coach under Meyer at Ohio State, his alma mater, from 2012 to 2015.
“He helped me grow in the profession and pushed me to where the field was going,” Schlegel said. “Knowing how he wants it done and the importance of the weight room, that’s why you take on an opportunity like this. The standard of excellence that he demands, that’s a no-brainer.”
Schlegel, 40, was a defensive standout for the Buckeyes before graduating in 2005, then was a third-round draft pick by the New York Jets. He played professionally for a few seasons before returning to Ohio State.
After leaving in 2015, Schlegel wasn’t sure whether he’d ever return to a full-time football role. He returned to school for his MBA, founded his own fitness company, secured two patents, and even served as a part-time radio talk-show host in Ohio.
“All of those different experiences prepared me for this,” Schlegel said. “I saw the intensity with which people train and how that makes them feel. You’re constantly growing.”
In Jacksonville, he oversees a sports performance staff that focuses on everything from weight routines to nutrition.
“It’s been fantastic. I love working with the guys,” he said. “Everything is about increasing the value of our athletes. You get to leave your mark a little bit. How do I get our 90 to be the best 90 they can be? Did I give them enough in training to allow them to have an opportunity?”
The Jaguars recently announced plans to build a $100 million football performance center in downtown Jacksonville. It will include 125,000 square feet for a new practice facility, plus state-of-the-art spaces for weights, training, recovery, player dining, and more.
“You’re always thinking of ways to be creative to help players move the needle for themselves, which moves the needle for our team,” he said. “You have to keep thinking of ways to be engaged and maximize them.”
Meanwhile, Schlegel and his staff have been busy preparing for the upcoming season. The team has a preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys on Aug. 29 in Arlington.