Exclusive: Rob Glass on UF's conditioning program

"Before I get in the ring, I have already won or lost. The real part is won or lost far away from witnesses, behind the lines, in the gym, out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights." The above statement is from world champion boxer, Muhammad Ali, whose work ethic was legendary. This quote is emblazoned on a banner in the workout area overseen by the University of Florida's Strength and Conditioning Director, Rob Glass.

Conditioning is the difference maker in a player's career. It is one of the most essential elements in a program's success. How an athlete prepares himself or herself for the struggle to come is a personal decision. God gives them abilities. The question then is - how far will a player go to develop that talent?

How often have we seen top rated recruits fade into mediocrity while at the same time watch those further down the rating lists explode onto the scene as stars? These players who dedicate themselves to their physical development and conditioning are the foundation of any successful program.

Coach Glass, who exudes the type of positive energy desired of a man in his position, took some of his valuable time to talk with me and answer questions about his efforts.

Few topics inspire as much interest and fascination among us Gator football fans. "How are the players progressing during the off season?". "Who has the highest bench press? " "Which players are emerging as the top achievers in the Strength and Conditioning Program?"

Although it is the policy of the UF's Athletic Department not to reveal specific lifting amounts of each player Coach Glass was able to describe some fascinating elements of his program and give some interesting information on some player's progress.

It was good news to this Gator to hear Coach Glass talk about the increased participation and energy that Coach Ron Zook's younger players were showing in making themselves more fit.

When asked "who are your top performers?" Coach Glass responded by mentioning Mike Degory, Mo Mitchell, Joe Cohen, Channing Crowder, DeShawn Wynn and Marcus Thomas as first coming to mind, a group which nicely represents the youth of our football team.

A question I have heard from many rabid fans involves the title - Iron Gator. Coach Glass explained that the Iron Gator designation is broken up between three categories of players. First are quarterbacks, running backs, receivers and defensive backs. The next are linebackers, defensive ends, tight ends and fullbacks. The third group includes the offensive linemen and interior defensive linemen.

To be recognized as an Iron Gator a player must meet and exceed a predetermine total in three measures of strength:

1. Bench Press
2. Squat
3. Power Clean

Each of the three player position classifications have the following total levels to reach to be awarded the Iron Gator designation:

Quarterbacks/Running Backs/Receivers/Defensive Backs 1,100 pounds

Linebackers, Defensive Ends, Tight Ends/Fullbacks 1,200 pounds

Interior Linemen: 1,300 pounds

Players are tested for these amounts just prior to the beginning of spring and fall practice sessions. The most intense workouts are scheduled to tailor off about nine to ten days prior to the start of spring and fall practices. Coach Glass then described how a player's weight conditioning was a cumulative process. "Few freshmen come in and meet these levels. It is a fact that most of the Iron Gator designees are upper classmen."

Although not giving out the names of who reached the Iron Gator qualifying levels it was encouraging to me to hear Coach Glass say that the number of players earning it was on the increase.

The coach was willing to share some following interesting tidbits. The top performer in all three lifting categories was none other than Mo Mitchell. "Mo is up there for a group of reasons. One of which he works hard over here and the other is that he has been in the program awhile. I can tell you that the person who will take Mo's place in a year or two will be Joe Cohen. He is something. And, I can tell you we have a nice group of players bench pressing in the 500-pound area!"

Of the backs Glass noted that running back DeShawn Wynn led in the leg squat while fullback Billy Latsko was close behind. Latsko was a leader among the backs in the power clean category.

He remarked how Channing Crowder was an excellent overall performer. Tops in the bench press included Joe Cohen, Ray McDonald, Juco transfer Jeremy Mincey, and Marcus Thomas to name a few. Coach Glass also noted how Steve Harris was one of the leaders in the leg squat along with Jeremy Mincey, Ray MacDonald, Lance Butler and Mike Degory.

It was intriguing to hear Coach Glass then talk about how lower body strength is of greater overall importance in player development than upper body strength as measured by the bench press. "Whether you are a lineman or a receiver, it all comes down to Isaac Newton's second law of motion - for every action there is an equal opposite reaction. We want all of our players to have that explosive burst off the line. It comes down to how much strength can they bring to bear when they plant their feet and burst out of the blocks. That is something they can increase with our program." He added that "along the line, a player with good quickness, technique can often outplay someone with a greater bench press amount."

A point often wondered about is - can receivers, through his program, decrease their times in the 40-yard dash? "Of course they can," Coach Glass remarked, "I have seen dedicated players come in and take as much as a tenth to a tenth and a half a second off their 40 times. Again, it all goes back to how much power can you put into that explosive burst when you take off running."

The strength and conditioning process for players does not end during the season. For instance, do redshirt players still lift and condition themselves throughout the fall game schedule? The answer is yes. They do. According to Coach Glass an individual not playing in games will be brought in four times a week. For others the number of snaps will dictate how often a player is scheduled to work with him. Somebody getting in 60 to 80 snaps per game would be participating in a session or two less than someone not getting into games as much. "Our conditioning program is a year-round process."

In fact, even injured players, depending on the nature of their situation, can continue to develop themselves and have programs tailored for their unique requirements. This includes a program Coach Glass adapted for DT Kenny Parker, who has had back problems throughout his UF career.

How important is his program to quarterbacks? "Very!", according to Coach Glass. "Take a look at players like Danny Wuerffel and also Rex Grossman. Notice how well developed and muscled they were? It helps them in many ways including giving them the ability to take hits and avoid injuries."

"My goal is to give all my players more muscle, to make them stronger and give them more flexibility. This will make them better players and less susceptible to injuries."

"Something I am proud of is the increased participation of the players during voluntary time periods. They are all here for Summer B but I can tell you that we just had more players participating in Summer A, which is voluntary, than I have ever seen."

"The bottom line is, we demand so much of these guys and I feel we are getting it in return. This is a group of players who bust their tails and give their heart and soul for this program and for the right to wear that Gator jersey."

You have to like hearing that!

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