Winter Workouts are one of the most important times in a college football program. It's here college coaches witness who's serious about steeping forward and earning a job in the spring. While Coach Dantonio gave a challenge to the media, the real challenge was to see if anyone other than Bearcat coaches and players were willing to put out the effort expected of them. I was, and saw my day start very early Tuesday.
The day started with the alarm going off at 4.30 a.m. After getting a shower, I dressed and headed off to the car and the drive to Cincinnati. Traffic was light; it was 5:00 a.m... By the time I reached 275 traffic had picking up and I couldn't wait to see what the morning would bring.
With football season over, I can't wait for the start of spring ball and the excitement of seeing what players are going to step forward and become the next Bearcats to watch.
As I walked into Nippert Stadium, I could already sense the coaching staff getting into being back on the field. It was 6:00 a.m. and only half of the stadium lights were burning. With shouts of encouragement and whistles blowing, I knew then and there, Bearcat football was back in business.
COACH STATEN AND GILL KEEP AN EYE ON THEIR PLAYERS
While this morning was mild for mid February, you could see the players who enjoyed this type of weather and those who were wondering when the warmth of spring would raise its head.
TOTAL EFFORT IS A MUST
As the coaches ran players through their conditioning drills. You could see the heat being released by their bodies into the hazy dark sky. As the morning progressed sweat started to pour of many who know they have a chance to earn serious playing time during the upcoming spring session.
ONE OF SEVERAL DRILLS DURING THE DAY
As many fans know, the Bearcats lost several key seniors to graduation. While this loss is felt by fans, players get the sense that it's their time to shine and make a name for themselves.
But for many of these players this was their first Winter Workout Tour. Winter workouts are designed to push players to their mental and physical limits. Early on you could see the effects on those who have taken the winter easy. But you could also see who was ready to battle for a job with nothing standing in their way. It was their turn and they were going to take full advantage of it.
Each drill was conducted by a member of the coaching staff. Coach Dantonio took note of who was pushing themselves and who wasn't. If at any moment Coach Dantonio felt players weren't working he would stop the quarter and start it over. Today this happen once.
COACH DANTONIO STOPS PRACTICE
For those who have never seen a college practice, let me explain. Practice is broken down into quarters just like a game. Each quarter has a specific purpose and goal. Coaches push players to their limits in hopes of preparing them for the battles that await them. Each coach knows the work done here can mean the difference in winning a game in the fourth quarter.
What impressed me about the Bearcat coaches was while they were stern they also keep their players upbeat about the work being done.
WORKING HARD AND GIVING TOTAL EFFORT
Players know the work here could determine if they will earn major reps during spring ball and a chance to be high on the depth chart come fall.
EVEN WITH UPPER 40'S PLAYERS ENJOYED THE MILD WEATHER
What impressed me most was the work ethic shown by many members of this team. Leaders are starting to show their head and teamwork is being learned.
Coaches and players have a big goal ahead and let it be known at the end of each quarter. Before being released from the drill, coaches and players raised their hands together and shouted "Big East Champs", and then it was off to the next drill.
"BIG EAST CHAMPS"
That's right; Coach Dantonio's vision for the 2005 Bearcats is simple. Compete and win the Big East title during the Bearcats first year in their new conference.
Coach Dantonio and his staff know that job won't be an easy one.
With graduation taking a heavy hit on the Bearcats, coaches know this spring will bring fierce battles for every position on the field. Players were told by Coach Dantonio himself. "Your work here will determine were you're at on the field." You could sense the players were paying attention to their coach's words. Moments after saying this he also stressed the following about what laid ahead. "More players will be here this fall who want to earn playing time." You could sense those words struck a nerve into all the players.
COACH DANTONIO GETS HIS POINT ACROSS
Having been around other college workouts, means nothing surprises me. You saw players who couldn't compete due to injury or other matters. They were off on the side riding a bike or doing other drills in their yellow mesh pullovers. Don't think for a minute these guys got off easy. They didn't! They were put through the paces just like those on the field.
JUST BECAUSE YOUR IN YELLOW DOESN'T MEAN YOU DON'T WORK
You then had players who are doing their first tour of duty during this period of college football. They learned the work is hard and that they better come prepared for it. You then start to see leaders come forward and push those who need it most. But what I saw most was the forming of a team with a common goal. To be winners.
JUCO AND NEW BEARCAT QUARTERBACK NICK DAVILA
Job's may be won and loss during the next couple of months, but teamwork is something that will stay with these players until they finish the up coming season.
For those players who had problems with the work, coaches made sure they got some extra work in.
COACH TREADWELL TALKS TO OFFENSIVE PLAYERS AND COACHES
Yes it may be only February, but the Bearcat football team is preparing like its August and the season is right around the corner.
If this team can keep the work ethic I witnessed today, then Coach Dantonio's vision may be right around the corner.
Bearcat Insider would like to thank the coaching staff for allowing us to share in this morning's