Rhea comes to New Orleans after spending the past two seasons at the University of Alabama as the director of sport science, specializing in the science of sports training to help Alabama's student athletes reach their fullest athletic potential. The data that Rhea and the Alabama staff collected helped determine exactly what recovery strategies each player needed to create an optimal environment for training and development on a personalized level. The past two seasons, Rhea played an important part on the strength and conditioning/sport science side of a Crimson Tide program that captured the 2020 College Football Playoff Championship and featured six consensus All-Americans and six NFL first round draft picks and in the 2021 season reached the title game and featured four consensus All-Americans, as well as the Heisman Trophy winner each of the past two seasons.
Rhea has worked as a football strength and conditioning coach for 14 years, including five years with National Football League combine training, five in high school football and four at the collegiate level. He came to Alabama from Indiana University, where he spent the previous two years as IU's High-Performance Coordinator while working with the Hoosiers' football program.
Prior to his successful tenure in Bloomington, he was the head of sport science at IMG Academy from 2016-17. There, he contributed to the optimal development of athletes through innovative assessments and advanced strength and conditioning. Rhea launched a consulting company in 2001 and helped NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL teams, International Olympic programs and college athletic departments. He provided direction to his clients in areas like speed training, injury prevention and performance optimization.
Rhea advanced to become a full professor of kinesiology at A.T. Still University, where he taught courses in sports conditioning and exercise physiology. Rhea has published nearly 100 studies in sports performance enhancement, as well as lecturing in seven different countries. While attending school, he played football for three years at both UNLV and Southern Utah University. He received his bachelor of science degree in physical education from Southern Utah in 1998, a master of science in exercise science and physical education from Arizona State in 2001, and a master of science in sports management from American Public University in 2016. He went on to earn his doctorate of philosophy in 2004 from Arizona State with an exercise and sport science academic focus and an athletic performance enhancement research focus.
Rhea and his wife Kellie have five sons, Isaac, Jake, Ethan, Kelen and Karsten.