Longo's World - Bearcats In The Weight Room

Football coaches understand the value of work in the weight room, and Cincinnati's Paul Longo has his troops giving a championship effort four days a week on the 1st floor of the Lindner Building.

Paul Longo is the strength and conditioning coach for the Bearcat football team, and he's in mid-season form as the Bearcat football players are midway between spring football and summer football practices.  Despite this period being considered the "offseason," it's a very important time as players try to sculpt their bodies to prepare for the rigors of the upcoming season.  Bearcat Insider was a special guest for a recent Thursday weight room workout and spoke in depth with Coach Longo.


"We're about five weeks into our summer program, about halfway.  They're getting used to the system and the weekly regiment as far as what to expect each day.  That's a good thing.  Today (Thursday) is usually the hardest day as far as it being physically taxing.  Mondays and Thursdays are strength and conditioning days.  Tuesdays and Wednesdays are speed and power days.  Today is a heavy leg day.  You're going to see heavy squats with the chains  (The chains add weight at the top of the lift but not at the bottom), power cleans coming off the floor and stiff leg dead lift off the floor.  You're also going to see some exotic things like resisted running on the treadmills, which is just like running uphill.  We'll also have an 80 yard farmers' walk where they'll carry anywhere between 100 to 120 pounds in each hand and walk 80 yards with them.  Everything is a full body exercise, and it'll take a couple days to recover from this."  Thursday's workout took between 1.5 to 2 hours, and the players will have Friday and the weekend to recover.  Other than Thursdays, most of the workouts last between 60 and 90 minutes.


There was very little yelling, and the players go about their lifts/exercises in a very businesslike manner.  In some instances, Coach Longo gives hand signals, and the players know exactly what exercise to perform.


In most cases, it's easy to identify the freshmen since most are not as physically mature as the veterans, especially at the power positions of offensive and defensive line.  I've been around these guys for the last few years, and a few of them have reinvented themselves in a short amount of time.  Offensive line project, Jason Kelce, is up to 275 pounds after being listed at 240 last season.  Redshirt freshman C. J. Cobb (OL) looks so much more athletic at 295 pounds instead of the 330 pounds when he arrived on campus.  Linebacker Jon Carpenter may be the best physical specimen I've ever seen, and running backs Bradley Glatthaar and Jacob Ramsey look to be made of stone.  Marcus Waugh is no stranger to the weight room and looks good at 250 pounds as he prepares to change position to the defensive line.  Khalil El-Amin (OL) also continues to get himself back into playing condition after sitting out last year because of an injury and mentioned that the vigorous work in the weight room would turn the Bearcats into Big East champions in 2007.


One player that impressed me during summer practices last year was Trevor Canfield, and he became an All Big-East offensive guard in 2006.  Trevor is not resting on his laurels.  He is now an absolutely chiseled 301 pounds.  Barring serious injury in the next two years, Canfield will hear his name called on NFL draft weekend.  It's just a matter of how early.


Coach Longo talked about this group that he's inherited.  "I like their work habits and their passion for football.  They show up to work every day.  They're bright eyed, high energy guys.  They match up characterwise with what we're trying to do here."  As far as the freshmen go, "As a group, they have a great work ethic, and there are some raw athletes in there."  Chazz Anderson and O. J. Woodard didn't look like typical freshmen.


Although summer workouts are voluntary, every player knows it's really a necessity so all 82 players are participating.


One of Coach Longo's specialties is taking players from another position and helping mold them into NFL caliber offensive linemen.  As mentioned earlier, Jason Kelce was one of Longo's spring projects, and the experiment seems to be going very well.  "He's 275 pounds and still running fast.  That's about where he'll play this year, and he's still coming along strengthwise.  He's got all the qualities.  He's such a hard worker.  It's going to take a lot to keep that kid from being successful."


Players will get their speed timed prior to breaking for summer camp, and Longo believes those times will be impressive.  "You'll see that most of our offensive linemen are down in the neighborhood of 5% body fat.  Trevor Canfield is right at 300-301 pounds.  He was 320 to 323 pounds, and he's just moving so much better.  Plus, he's stronger than he was.  We want them sleek and able to move.  Digger's done a good job, and I really like the progress Linkenbach is making."  The Bearcats will be looking to replace Jeff Reinstatler at center, and Coach Longo feels both Chris Jurek and Chris Flores have made progress this summer.  "Jurek is coming along.  He's only a sophomore, and he's starting to get some weight on his back and able to handle some heavy squats.  Flores is also coming along.  You know we're a ‘next man in' team.  We don't want a dropoff, and Jurek and Flores are right there.  There's not much difference, and both of them are working hard."


Since many people use forty-yard-dash times as a major measuring stick of a player's potential, Coach Longo was asked about it.  "It depends on the kid and the position, but we can take as much as a half second off a kid's time if he's a lineman."  Lowering a skill player's time by that much isn't realistic.  "You aren't going to take .5 seconds off those guys, but we can lower a time by .1 or .2 of a second.  I tell people that a high school 4.6 is a college 4.7 and an NFL 4.8.  Does a 4.6 kid run a 4.6 all the time?  There are a lot of ways to look at those times.  Some of it depends on who is timing the kid and what surface he's running on." 


Longo's resume includes stops at Iowa and Wisconsin, and he had some interesting comments about the talent at Cincinnati.  "I think there is as much talent here as there is at most Big Ten schools.  It's just a matter of taking that talent and developing it and the team.  The state of Iowa probably doesn't have eight Division IA kids in the entire state.  Here in Ohio you could find eight in one conference."


In the past, Cincinnati has given out weight room awards, but Coach Longo has a different approach.  "I've gotten away from that.  I want to take each player to a level that I believe will maximize his ability as a football player.  Take Marcus Waugh for instance.  I could have that kid squatting 700 pounds if I wanted to, but would it make him a better football player?  The competition of who can do more takes me away from making a kid a better football player and making the team the best we can make it.  Another problem with that is injury.  There's risk if a kid is trying to do too much weight to win something.  We want everyone working as a team and not against each other.  We're all about ‘next man in.'  When I was at Wisconsin, we had a returning All Big Ten kid that we had bench 430 pounds, and he wanted to try 440.  He injured himself and was done for the year.  If you survive, you sometimes learn the hard way."


Longo runs three different Thursday workouts.  Players can attend at 8 a.m., 4 p.m. or 5 p.m.  On this Thursday, twenty attended the morning session while the remainder waited until late afternoon.


There are very few rules, but one I remembered.  If you have to vomit, make sure it doesn't happen in the weight room.  Get to the proper bucket.  I made sure I stayed away from the bucket and the weights.  It would have been way more than a three day recovery period for me.  As I left, I told Bradley Glatthaar I was leaving before Longo put me to work.  His response-"Lucky you."  But actually Bearcat football fans are the lucky ones to have a Paul Longo working with their players. 




Bearcat Insider Top Stories