MSU RELEASE Football Strength & Conditioning Staff Announced


Gold Member
May 29, 2001
Beyond the Sun
by Brandon Langlois, Associate Director/Communications

– Led by Tyson Brown, Mississippi State finalized its football strength and conditioning staff Friday. The Bulldogs began their winter strength and conditioning program earlier this week.

Under the direction of Brown, who was announced as the program's head strength and conditioning coach on Jan. 16, Chad Traver, Dan Kistler Jr., Alex Watkins, and MSU alumnus and former football student-athlete DeAndre Ward will serve as assistant strength and conditioning coaches.

"I couldn't be more excited about the staff we were able to assemble in the weight room," Brown said. "They are all men who will pour themselves into the mental and physical development of the great young men here at Mississippi State. They are all great teachers and better men who will help us establish a strength and conditioning program that prides itself on toughness, discipline and hard work."

Traver spent the past four years as an assistant football strength and conditioning coach at Washington State. He joined the Cougars from Ole Miss and after spending the 2015 season as the director of coliseum – assistant strength and conditioning coach for Southern Miss. At USM, he oversaw the training programs for men's basketball, women's basketball and volleyball in addition to assisting with the speed training of the football program.

Traver, from Seattle, spent the 2014 season as a volunteer assistant football strength coach at Ole Miss. Prior to his first stint in Oxford, Traver worked as an intern with the Washington State football strength and conditioning program in 2014 and again in 2015. He began his career as a graduate assistant at Louisiana-Monroe (2008-09) and later worked at Augustana College (2010-13) and Morningside College (2013-14).

Traver was a two-sport athlete at the University of Sioux Falls in football and wrestling, earning his bachelor's degree in exercise science in 2008. He earned his master's degree in applied exercise physiology at Louisiana Monroe in 2010.

Kistler Jr. comes to Starkville after two seasons at Washington State as an assistant strength and conditioning coach. Before his time in Pullman, he spent the 2017 season as a graduate assistant strength and conditioning coach at Memphis. Before that, he spent the spring semester at the Louisiana-Monroe in a similar capacity after a season at California as a strength and conditioning intern, working with the football, baseball and women's crew programs.

Kistler Jr. played in the NFL with the Oakland Raiders during the 2014 and 2015 seasons, where he was a member of the team's practice squad.

A three-year starter at Montana, Kistler capped his senior season by being named to the Associated Press, Walter Camp Foundation, AFCA FCS Coaches and Sports Network All-America teams. He was a two-time All-Big Sky Conference first-team choice and was selected to play in the 2014 East-West Shrine Game.

He is certified by the National Strength and Conditioning Association and USA Weightlifting (USAW Level 1), and is also CPR/AED certified by the American Red Cross.

Watkins joins the Bulldogs after one season at UAB in 2019 as assistant strength and conditioning coach. No stranger to the SEC, the Brownsville, Tennessee, native was a football student-athlete at Alabama from 2007-11, lettering during the 2010 and 2011 seasons. He earned his bachelor's degree in general health studies with concentrations in nutrition and kinesiology.

After graduating from Alabama, Watkins was signed by the Tennessee Titans in 2012 as an undrafted free agent. Following his time with the organization, he returned to Tuscaloosa to begin his coaching career with the Crimson Tide, where he was an intern strength and conditioning coach from 2013-14.

Prior to 2019 at UAB, Watkins spent three years (2016-18) at Texas Southern as head football strength and conditioning coach. Before that, he was head strength and conditioning coach for all sports at Stillman College in Tuscaloosa.

Ward returns to Starkville after spending the last two years as assistant strength and conditioning coach at Cincinnati. The Wetumpka, Alabama, native was a hard-working, smart linebacker at MSU 2013-16 who went from being a walk-on to earning a full ride at the end of training camp in fall 2014 due to his work ethic. He was a two-time member of the SEC Fall Academic Honor Roll and earned his bachelor's degree in industrial technology in December 2016.

Ward played in 41 career games with three starts collecting 79 tackles, 5.0 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and one interception for a touchdown. He played in a bowl game every years of his MSU career and was a prominent member on special teams coverage during the Bulldogs' rise to the No. 1 ranking in 2014.

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