Seeing double: Witherspoon brings NM State vision to Rams at Super Bowl LVI – KTSM 9 News

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LAS CRUCES, NM (KTSM) – If a man that looks like Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay comes into picture on the Rams sideline during NBC’s broadcast of Super Bowl LVI on Sunday, don’t adjust your TV.
It’s no stunt double; it’s not his brother; it’s former New Mexico State strength coach, Zach Witherspoon, who bears a striking resemblance to L.A.’s fifth year head coach.
“Even when I was at NMSU, especially after a hair cut or something, they’d say, ‘you kind of look like Sean McVay,’ and I’d say, ‘ya I get that a lot,” Witherspoon told KTSM on Tuesday, five days before the Rams play the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI at Sofi Stadium in Los Angeles.
Witherspoon was hired by the Rams as an assistant strength coach in the spring of 2021 after almost eight years with the Aggies. He helped revolutionize the strength and conditioning program at New Mexico State, using programs and developing techniques to help train athletes for every sport, especially the Aggies’ men’s basketball team.
His work in Las Cruces eventually caught the eye of the Rams last winter and he was hired in March of 2021. Soon after stepping in the building, the McVay comparisons came quickly, and often – from the Rams coaches and players and eventually, on social media.
I wonder if Sean McVay knows he has a brother who also works for the Rams pic.twitter.com/or87T2FdOa
“It was my first day and Michael Brockers (former Rams defensive lineman) who’s now with the Detroit Lions, says from across the weight room, ‘oh man you look just like McVay, we have to figure something out, you have to wear a hat or a bell,’” said Witherspoon.
Witherspoon has fed into the comparisons, too. His weekly and pregame duties are all about the players – working with them in the weight room, taking them through dynamic warmups, just generally getting them ready to play an 18-week NFL season.
But it’s his in-game duties that have brought Witherspoon the most notoriety. It’s his job to follow McVay around the sidelines for all 60 minutes of the game, ensuring McVay is in line with the league’s sideline rules. Keeping McVay out of harms way is an important gig, but Witherspoon jokes that he was likely selected because he happens to be a McVay doppleganger.
“He is a master at what he does he’s a phenomenal play caller and totally caught up in the game when he’s in that moment,” said Witherspoon. “I’m trying to make sure the chain gang isn’t whacking him over the head with the chains and things like that.”
Masters of their crafts: that’s what McVay and Witherspoon have in common. Before going to the Rams, Witherspoon was the strength and conditioning coach for Chris Jans and the NMSU men’s basketball team.
Among many other duties, Witherspoon was tasked with building the Aggies’ training facility from scratch when they had to relocate to Arizona in November, 2020, due to COVID-19 restrictions in the state of New Mexico. Jans gave him glowing reviews to prospective employers.
🎥 | Lifts. Gains. Meals. In today's Aggie Access feature, we're giving you a look at the guy in charge of all of this and more in Phoenix: our strength & conditioning coach Zach Witherspoon 💪#AggieUp pic.twitter.com/9CtCtdruX4
“He was all bought in the whole way and that makes you feel good as the coach to feel like, ‘yes, he’s not a basketball assistant,’ but we treated him like he was and leaned on him like he was and it was a special thing that he did for us,” said Jans.
As many people due at NMSU, Witherspoon wore a lot of hats for the Aggies out of necessity. Now, his versatility has helped him excel with the Rams.
“I’ve gotten to see it from a lot of different angles, so coming here to a high performance model where everything is already in place, I can integrate with all of them,” said Witherspoon.
Added NM State Director of Athletics, Mario Moccia: “One of the only things that could have taken him away was his life long dream of working in the NFL. Now it’s proving how good he is on the national stage, so I’m glad he got this opportunity (at NMSU).”
Witherspoon’s life changed in a myriad of ways thanks to NMSU. He met and married his wife, Nicole Gomez (now Nicole Witherspoon), in Las Cruces while both were looking for the university. The school helped him take his career to the next level, too.
In less than a year, he’s gone from Las Cruces setting up weight rooms in hotel rooms, to Los Angeles, training NFL stars like Cooper Kupp, Aaron Donald and Von Miller.
“A lucky charm,” as Jans called him. “First year in the pros and he’s going to get to experience a Super Bowl in their arena.”
On Sunday, Witherspoon will live a dream, as a coach in Super Bowl LVI.
“You realize going through a season and playoff run how difficult it truly is to get to this point, so it would be beyond compare to win it,” said Witherspoon.
He and the Rams will kickoff Super Bowl LVI vs. the Bengals at 4:30 p.m. MT on Sunday. The game will air exclusively on KTSM.
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