Not Impressed

Spring semesters all over the country are coming to a close. For most college football programs, this means that most of the athletes will go home for a couple of months before coming back for pre-season practice before school starts. A typical program will put their players through a gamut of tests to see how well (or not?) they improved. The LSU football did such a thing, and recently posted an article about it.

Before I say anything else, let me clarify that I’m an SEC guy. I like LSU in the sense that I will root for them when they play non-conference teams. I’ve watched many memorable games (my favorite being a defensive showdown a few years ago with Auburn — the 4th quarter was amazing). SEC Football is typically some of the most impressive, exciting college football in the country. The teams yield impressive athletes and the conference is known for the quality of intra-conference competition. I’m not crazy about one college football team or another, but I do dislike some teams. LSU is not one of those teams. I say all this, because college football fans are fucking nut jobs and I don’t really care to get into a crazy fan war.

With all that being said, one phrase comes to mind when I see the results of LSU’s testing:
Not impressed.

Sorry. Scroll down in that article and look at the top 5 squatters. 545, 535 (3 times), and 510. Really? These guys are the cream of the genetic crop from high school. Some of them may have a shot at the NFL, and they play on one of the best teams in one of the best conferences in the country. Even I squatted 500 for an easy triple a few weeks ago. I will give Patrick Peterson some props — he’s a cornerback listed at 6’1 and 211 (which means he’s actually 5’10” and 195). In other words, he is almost squatting the most on the team weighing around 200 pounds while there are guys who weigh 290+.

Yes, I understand these guys are football players and their primary “sport” is not lifting. But I really expected to see some 600+ squats on the team. Maybe even 700.

I’m not really impressed with the clean numbers either. The best clean, which was a school record, is 374. Granted, I’ve never cleaned 170 kg yet (I’ve done 165), I just really expected these genetic freaks to be doing more. It is important to note that Michael Ford (a sophomore running back who is listed at 5’10” and 207) led the team with a 42″ vertical jump AND was third on the team with a 352 lb clean. There is definitely a correlation between these two activities, and neuromuscular efficiency dictates this. It’s genetic, so you either have it or you don’t. Sorry I’m not sorry.

The other lifts tested were the jerk (which I found surprising, but good on them for incorporating the jerk into their program and getting pretty decent numbers) and bench press. Now, these fulls definitely went into beast mode on the bench. The top BP was Drake Nevis, a defensive lineman listed at 6’1″ and 292 lbs, at 475 lbs. Obviously these guys are raw, and that’s damned impressive. Guess who got second on the BP? Michael Ford at 425. Read that again — a 207 lb running back just benched 425. Fuck.

The hand timed 40 yard dash is iffy, though. If you’ve ever followed SEC 40 times (cough, cough, Florida), then you know they are comically low. The fastest time was Patrick Peterson, that little ol’ cornerback who squatted 535. Now, it is hand timed, but if you have a dude like that running that fast with that kind of strength behind him…he’s gonna do some damage.

Guys like Patrick Peterson, Michael Ford, and Drake Nevis are why football continues to be an impressive sport. Knowing that they possess that kind of ability makes me want to follow them throughout the season. I like guys that work hard in the gym.

But, football is a game that is dependent on the hips, and this makes squatting and cleans the most important exercises to improve performance. I would have assumed these lifts would have been monstrous, and they are right about what I am capable of. I coached somebody who played football in college with Brian Urlacher, and they said he power cleaned 405. That’s the kind of stuff I expected to see. Until I see some 600 pound squats, I will continue to be “not impressed” no matter how good their 40 times or bench presses are.