Throughout preseason football camp, Assistant Director of Athletics Communications Rachel Perreault will take you on a behind-the-scenes look at different aspects of the football program that go beyond the practice field. In today’s sixth installment, she checks in with the Strength & Conditioning staff.
A rarity for this time of year, things down in the football weight room are calm and quiet. With their busy season behind them, Associate Director of Athletics for Athletic Performance Mike Gentry and his staff are in cruise control. After just one lift in the first six days of camp, and just one per day for the remainder of camp, the strength staff is working hard to enjoy this lighter schedule.
Wrapping up the hectic summer schedule just over two weeks ago, camp days are a breeze for the football strength staff, made up of two full-time coaches, Jarrett Ferguson and Keith Short, as well as two graduate assistants: Mark Muncey and John Graves - all four of which are former Hokies. Responsible for getting Coach Ferguson and Coach Short onto the field as students, he prefers to keep former players or athletes on his staff since they understand not only the program but the standards he expects and holds players to.
It is a welcomed and enjoyed change of pace for the staff as they arrive at work around 9 a.m. through camp, instead of the 6 a.m. wake-up call they had throughout the summer. Though they are still around for practice every evening, there is only one lift each day instead of three.
The players lifted the first day of camp just to get them back into the swing of things since they had about a week off before camp began. Returning to the weight room yesterday, Coach Ferguson says the players have three different workouts the staff has put together for them, and every time they are in the weight room they will rotate those workouts. Through camp, the offense and the defense alternate lifting days. The defense kicked the schedule off on Monday and the offense got their turn today.
Outside of the weight room, the staff helps the injured players get back to playing shape, assisting with agility drills and things of that nature. The staff is in the office all day and will head out to practice, warm the guys up and help them stretch. The team does conditioning every day at the end of practice and the strength staff is responsible for making sure all the players are meeting the standards. Though there isn’t anyone they are taking care of now, if a players are in a green jersey for practice they will head to the strength staff during that time for some supplemental workouts as they work back from injury.
For those players around for the summer, they lift four days a week for 10 weeks. The staff looks at each player’s results from the spring and they make an individual summer plan for each player, helping them set goals and work towards certain results.
Each individual has a summer workout put together for them, whether they remain in Blacksburg or not, but for a couple of the weight room’s summer standouts, Joey Phillips and Marcus Davis, the benefits of not only staying in town but working daily with the staff are endless.
Both players entered the summer with different goals but came out with the same results. For Phillips, the summer was about consistency and getting stronger, as it is every year for him. Working closely with and putting all his trust in all of the strength coaches, those are exactly the results he walked away with. Phillips notes the summer as one of the most important times due to the fact that players have a chance not only to bond with their teammates but also prepare their body for the upcoming season.
For Davis, he knew there was a role to fill after so much production on offense was lost in the offseason, so he embraced this opportunity to get better and step up as a leader as well. Davis not only used the summer to get stronger, but also work on his agility to be more precise on his breaks and running routes. Both players were recipients of the Excalibur Award this summer for their outstanding performances and hard work this summer.
Luckier than most surrounding Tech’s football team, the strength and conditioning staff is sitting pretty during camp. It’s no vacation for the staff these days, but the more relaxed days of August are exactly what these coaches look forward to after grinding through the days that most everyone else was off.
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