As easy as jumping rope?

Determined to get the squad in peak condition, Head Strength Coach Ben Pollard is running the players hard. <br><br>Tuesday the athletes combined jumping rope with 100-yard sprints--repeated over and over again to virtual exhaustion--to work on both agility and aerobic conditioning at the same time.

(Above left) Dre Fulgham and Donald Clarke jump rope during conditioning drills this week. It may seem odd to some, but boxers have long understood the value of jumping rope in improving footwork.

Offensive lineman Justin Smiley works out in the indoor facility. Each full circuit starts with 30 repetitions of jumping rope, then the players run 100 yards, after which they walk back and start the process over again.

Middle linebacker Derrick Pope runs during the conditioning circuit. The first few times around the 100-yard run is easy, but before they're done every athlete will have sprinted the distance 24 times.

Brodie Croyle and Brooks Daniels walk back after the 100-yard run to start again. The walk back allows time to recover, but no stopping is allowed. The 24 circuits are completed with one continuous effort.

The Tide team jumps rope before running. Obviously the goal is to work on everyone's footwork while also improving overall conditioning. But even the most agile athletes struggle with jumping rope as the conditioning drags on and fatigue sets in.

Cornerback Charlie Peprah (left) and safety Chris James (center) run toward the 100-yard mark. Head Strength and Conditioning Coach Ben Pollard is determined to get the squad in peak aeorbic condition over the summer. (That's defensive end Mark Anderson to the right walking back)

By the time they finish the 24th circuit, even the best-conditioned athletes are sucking wind. Safety Roman Harper's look says it all.

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