Tim Swanger replaced Mickey Marotti when Marotti became Notre Dame's strength coach in 1998. The Cincinnati Bearcats strength program had gotten a lot of notoriety under Marotti, and some fans felt he was irreplaceable. However, Swanger has proven to be an outstanding replacement. BCI sat down with Coach Swanger and focused on the Bearcat football team.
When discussing weight training, we had to start with the biggest guys on the team-the offensive line. As expected, the conversation started with the lone veteran-Steve Eastlake. Eastlake is the strongest offensive lineman with a 400 pound bench. He weighs 297 pounds. The Bearcat bench press record is held by Kirt Doolin with a lift of 495 pounds. One offensive lineman that drew praise from Coach Swanger was Eastlake's back-up and a guy BCI has noticed in practice, Jeremy Bolton. "Jeremy Bolton has done a really good job. He has really improved his footwork since he's gotten here. He came here at 328 pounds. Now he's 301 pounds. He's really leaned out and gotten rid a lot of that baby fat." Another player enjoying substantial improvement in the weight room is Digger Bujnoch. "He's put almost 100 pounds on his bench since he's gotten here. He's gone from a body weight of 247 pounds to 281 pounds." Finally, Matt Webster was singled out for his leadership and work ethic. "Matt Webster had a good summer leadershipwise. He also put 100 pounds on his bench since he's gotten here and increased his body weight from 260 pounds to 301 pounds."
From the offensive line, we moved to the defensive line. The first name out of Coach Swanger's mouth was Adam Roberts. "He's been great from day one. He's a 425 pound bench guy and runs a 4.59 forty. He came in at 235 pounds and now weighs 260 pounds. He‘s solid as hell. He‘s definitely the leader out of that group." Other notables included Donald Germany and Jon Newton. "Germany is psycho. We call him ‘Predator' because he looks like the one in the movie with his hair. He came here at 218 pounds and now weights 240. He outworks anybody. He's put almost 100 pounds on his bench." Jon Newton has actually had to lose weight after playing offensive line last year. "Jon just missed benching 400 pounds, but he's put 100 pounds on his bench. He's dropped his body weight from being almost 300 pounds to 280. He needed to drop the weight so he could move better. I think he looks pretty good out there. He‘s a good guy, a Roger Bacon kid." I had to ask about Trevor Anderson since Anderson's high school didn't have a weight room. "He used to do about 400 push-ups a night. He said he did push-ups until he dropped. He's 6' and 255 pounds and benched 310 pounds and cleans 270 pounds, which is really good for having no weight room. Those are really good starting numbers." The final defensive lineman we discussed was Adam Hoppel. "Adam is a 400 pound bench guy and weights 275 pounds."
Despite this recruiting class being rated poorly by many services, they are one of the physically strongest UC has had. Fourteen of them bench press 300 or more pounds. Interestingly, Terrill Byrd isn't the strongest. Byrd benched 415 pounds and Marcus Waugh, another guy that's impressed BCI, got 425 pounds. Walk-on Carlos Parrish was the next highest with a 360 pound bench press while Donnell MacKenzie benched 350 pounds. Andre Revels wasn't far behind at 335 to edge out Connor Barwin and Brad Jones at 325 pounds. Brad Jones really impressed Coach Swanger. "Brad Jones benches 325 pounds. That's damn good for a 6' 1" 195 pound DB." Even some of the smaller players came into the weight room and were impressive. Cedric Tolbert benched 275 pounds and weighs only 192 lbs., and Dominic Goodman benched 255 pounds and squatted almost 400 pounds, which would challenge some of the offensive linemen. The freshmen have not been timed in the 40-yard dash yet.
Next came the linebackers. Swanger started the conversation with Jon Carpenter. "He benches 380 pounds and is in incredible shape. He'll get 400 pounds soon. He was my 1st pick in the strong man competition. Hoke has also done a good job with a 400 bench and 4.6 forty. He weighs 245 pounds. Leo Morgan is a real strong kid that benches 410 and runs a 4.8. McCullough spends time in there. He benches 335 pounds, and John Zwitt works hard too. Angelo Craig has put 115 pounds on his bench press since he's been here. His body weight has gone from 193 pounds to 230 pounds, and he runs a 4.54 forty. I‘d like to see him put another 10-20 pounds on that frame."
The defensive backs came next. Coach Swanger had this to say. "Horton's the leader out of that group. He has a 320 pound bench and a 4.45 forty. Dominick Ross has done a good job too. He's one of the leaders with over 300 pound bench and 4.5 forty. We want the skill guys to have a 300 pound bench. Haruki (Nakamura) is a good guy in the weight room. He's always yelling and is all over the place. He has a 300 pound bench and a 4.6 forty. Bowie is the fastest guy with a 4.38 forty, but he's had a lot of problems with injuries."
We moved to the quarterbacks. Tim started with a guy that had been recently moved to defense. "Well, we had David Wess until the other day. He's a great kid, very strong. He came here at 198 pounds, and he weighed 217 yesterday. He benches 325 pounds and runs a 4.57 forty. Great kid, great guy. Grutza benched 275 pounds and runs a 4.68 forty. Nick Davila came here at 178 pounds and now weighs 203. He went from a195 pound bench to 280 pounds. He can run all day and has a 4.65 forty."
At running back, Doug Jones is the biggest, but he's not the strongest veteran. Jones weighs 270 pounds and benches 340 pounds, but Bradley Glatthaar is the strongest with a 360 pound bench while weighing only 224 pounds. Coach Swanger talked about a few others. "Butler Benton has done well coming back from his shoulder injury with a 335 pound bench, and Mike Daniels at 183 pounds benches almost 300 pounds and runs a 4.5 forty." Daniels is the fastest running back followed by Benton and Greg Moore at 4.6 and Glatthaar at 4.7. Jones runs a 5.0.
We combined the receivers and tight ends. Celek has gone from 235 pounds of body weight to 262 pounds. He benches 375 pounds, almost a 100 pound increase, and he runs a 4.7 forty. Coach Swanger also praised Connor Barwin and Kazeem Ali. "Connor is a real good worker and benches 325 pounds, and Kazeem has a great body and just missed getting 300 pounds on the bench. Coach Swanger talked about several receivers. "Bill Poland does a good job. He weighs 208 pounds and benches 285 pounds. He's a 4.6 guy. Derick Ross benches 300 pounds and runs a 4.59. He's a good, solid kid. Antwuan Giddens is a great kid, polite and works his ass off. He's up to 191 pounds and now benches 280 pounds with a 4.5 forty. Ernie Jackson is a beast. He's 6' 3" and 217 pounds with a 325 bench and 4.6 forty. He's a horse."
Finally, we discussed Kevin Lovell. "Kevin Lovell is a great kid and works his ass off. He's gone from 140 pounds of body weight to 155 pounds, and he benches 220 pounds."
As an aside, this was the team's only off day in more than a week, but when I got to the weight room at 8:45 a.m. on Sunday, I found Leo Morgan, Antwuan Giddens, Mike Daniels, Kevin McCullough, Marcus Waugh, Angelo Craig, Corey Smith, David Wess and Tyler Clifford already working.