Setting The Tone

As a record number of Vandal athletes were enrolled in classes this summer, virtually the entire Idaho football team spent it's summer on campus preparing for the upcoming season. Runningback Rolly Lumbala (lifting) and defensive tackle Marcis Fennell (spotter) were among the athletes who spent months in the Iverson Strength and Speed Center in preparation for Idaho's move to the Western Athletic Conference.

Sophomore defensive tackles Siua Musika (6-1, 302) and Marcis Fennell (6-2, 285) working the medicine ball.
So, what did you do this summer?

Vacation? Travel? Work on your golf game?


For virtually the entire Vandal football team, their summer was spent right here in the recently completed Iverson Strength and Speed Center. As the saying goes, victories happen on game-day, but it's year-round dedication that makes those victories possible.

The concept is nothing new to Idaho. For decades Idaho graduated it's best athletes to the NFL. From John Yarno, to Mark Schlereth, Yo Murphy, John Friesz, Jeff Robinson, Mao Tosi, Marvin Washington, Spencer Folau, Ryan Phillips, Rick DeMulling, and Jake Scott, the list goes on. Even more remarkable, these Vandal greats (All-Conference winners, All-Americans, National Award winners, NFL draftees and All Pros) accomplished their goals in a weight room less than half the size of the Iverson Center.

The foundation of those success stories was the work ethic passed on to the team from class-to-class. To say that this work ethic was "lost" during the early part of this decade would be a an injustice to the athletes who worked hard in Idaho's old weight room during the Sun Belt years (one of which, Jake Scott, is the starting guard for the Indianapolis Colts in just his second NFL season).

True-sophomore runningback
Rolly Lumbala (6-2, 241).
But with Idaho's recently completed Strength and Speed Center (one of the most impressive facilities in the region, the Iverson Center opened it's doors this past winter), a host of other facilities upgrades, and new conference affiliation in the Western Athletic Conference, that work ethic and attitude is quickly becoming more apparent on the Idaho campus. Equally important, under the watchful eye of second year Head Coach Nick Holt, Idaho has once again made strength training a cornerstone of the Idaho program. In 2 years Idaho has brought in Strength Coaches from America's most storied programs, starting with Aaron Ausmus who came to Idaho from powerhouse USC, and this spring Idaho A.D. Rob Spear hired Scott Gadeken from LSU. Both have emphatically put their stamp on the program.

The impact of both coaches has been profound. We at cover the team fairly closely, and for the first time in years the physical transformation the team is making, both in the off-season and during the season, tops anything we've seen recently. The offensive linemen are "trimming" down, individual strength and speed goals are increasing during the season (not just during the off-season), and the attitude is changing.

How all of this will play out next season remains to be seen, but the effects are becoming more evident. Coach Holt's recent comments in the press about Idaho being "ahead" of where they were last year certainly seems to be holding true from our vantage point. Physically, this team has made impressive strides compared to the program a year ago.

Coaching continuity (this staff remained intact for a second year, the first time in a DECADE Idaho has retained its entire staff for 2 consecutive seasons), plus the number of returning players with game-time experience on both sides of the ball should bode well for the team as they tackle a challenging WAC schedule and non-conference dates with UW, WSU, and UNLV this fall.

Fortunately, the foundation is being put into place by a staff that knows what it takes to get this program performing at a higher level.

Recently photographer Larry Johnson was on campus and caught up with one group pounding it out in the Center. The pace was intense and focused (quickly becoming a trademark of the Holt era), but we were able to capture a few images (and an appropriate group shot) which are shown below.

Junior defensive tackle Ryan Davis (6-0, 270) joined the program this spring as a JC transfer.


True sophomore defensive tackle Marcis Fennell (6-2, 275) doing shrugs. Junior safety Tone Taupule (6-2, 215) joined the program this spring as a JC transfer.


Fourth year junior safety Brandon Mascorro heaves the medicine ball. True sophomore DT Siua Musika with Lumbala and Fennell looking on.


True sophomore wide receiver
Desmond Belton (6-4, 190) doing reps.
True sophomore RB Rolly Lumbala (6-2, 241) doing shrugs.

The crew.
FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: Fennell, Taupule, Davis, Musika, Mascorro, Belton, Andrew Stobart, and Lumbala.

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