As he embarks on his first season as the Browns Director of High Performance, Shaun Huls hopes to become the "glue piece" for all areas of player development.
Huls, who spent the past seven seasons in the same role with the Eagles, said he and Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager Andrew Berry share the same vision for "unifying" all areas of player care and development, and that became apparent in their year together in Philadelphia.
"We just kind of saw eye-to-eye in so many different ways on all the different topics that kind of surround football," Huls said. "It really just came back to being around good people -- good, like-minded people. And then looking from afar and the process that the organization went through in hiring guys like Andrew and Coach Stefanski, and how they had (Chief Strategy Officer) Paul (DePodesta) and (Owner) Jimmy (Haslam), and everyone had a process outlined and they stuck to the process.
"Along with a young roster and the support that the ownerships gives, it was a pretty easy decision."
In his role with the Browns, Huls will oversee strength and conditioning, sports science, nutrition and player development.
"There are a number of areas, whether it's strength and conditioning, nutrition, player loading, neuroscience, where you can push on those areas for a competitive advantage," Berry said. "Shaun, given his background, just has a breadth of expertise in all of those domains. He's a data-driven thinker, really progressive mindset and, most importantly, always has the players' interest first."
This will mark Huls' eighth season in the NFL, but he's been working closely with athletes since 1996, when he became the University of Nebraska head baseball and assistant football strength and conditioning coach. He took on a similar position at the University of Nevada in 2001 before moving on to Hampton University, where he oversaw all strength and conditioning as the director of athletic performance for the school's 16 varsity sports.
"Does the profession pick you or do you pick your profession? I have always been involved with it, even as a young kid," Huls said. "I was kind of always hyper-active in this area and read a lot about it. Then when I got to college, it seemed like a natural fit. I volunteered in the weight room there and never left."
Before joining the Eagles in 2013, Huls spent a combined seven years as the strength and conditioning and injury prevention programs coordinator with the U.S. Navy SEAL Teams and the head strength and conditioning coach and combative coordinator for U.S. Naval Special Warfare.
"When you are embedded with groups like that, you form super tight bonds with them. You want to help them in any way you can," Huls said. "You are always on the lookout for the next greatest thing that can help them.
"Just that curiosity and drive to help people is probably something that I innately always kind of had but then was amplified at the Seal team. That is something I have always carried with me for the rest of my life. Just being around those types of people and wanting to associate with those types of people."
Berry views a position like Huls' as "incredibly important" in a sport that continues to evolve and innovate when it comes to helping players in every possible way away from the field.
"Athletes, in general, are more frequently at this point going externally for areas that can give them individualized care in all of these areas," Berry said. "As an organization, we're trying to do the best in those spaces, whether it's a medical space or a high performance space, that ensures our players have world-class care here in Cleveland."
Shaun Huls' Coaching Background:
1996-2001: University of Nebraska, head baseball and assistant football strength and conditioning coach
2001-02: University of Nevada, head baseball and assistant football strength and conditioning coach/performance nutrition coordinator
2002-06: Hampton University, head of strength and conditioning
2006-13: U.S. Navy SEAL Teams, strength and conditioning and injury prevention programs coordinator
2006-13: U.S. Naval Special Warfare, head strength and conditioning coach and combative coordinator
2013-19: Philadelphia Eagles, director of high performance
2020-: Cleveland Browns, director of high performance