Inside the Weight Room: Defense

Prior to spring practices the team recorded their bench, squat, and power clean numbers. After practices were concluded the team held a two-day testing period. On May 3 they tested on the 40-yard dash and short shuttle. The next day they tested their vertical jump and their flexibility with a sit-and-reach test. Head strength and conditioning coach Andreu Swasey goes inside the numbers with the defense.

Swasey, in his seventh year as a strength and conditioning coach, points out that even with the individual success the team atmosphere stays in tact and the players get along well.

"You will never hear about Miami having just one guy," Swasey said. "People always ask how do we have so much success and how do we get along so well."

The key to having a solid defense is to have guys that want to be good and want to make plays. To be a strong defense there must be effort on every single play. Winning games does not happen on Saturday. It begins in the off-season.

"They are very hungry and hardworking guys. Right now we have a good chemistry and a good base of where we want to be."

With only four new starters on defense there are a lot of player fighting for playing time. This summer will tell a lot about the team.

"In the summer, it will tell a lot about the team with their commitment. The spring is early and they are working to get better. In the summer they are away from football, that is when you find out about the team. During the off-season with how they are talking and how they are gelling together. Now are the older guys are around. In the spring there are guys still around, but now you will see guys coming stepping up and separating themselves."

Defensive Line

Freshman Eric Moncur posted some of the best numbers on the team. He was second on the team in bench press (405 pounds), third in power clean (328), and sixth in squat (455). He was the only defensive player to be on the top 10 in all three categories.

Other members of the 2003 recruiting class posted solid numbers as well. Dave Howell lifted 365 pounds in the bench press. Bryan Pata benched 350 pounds and squatted 475 pounds. Teraz McCray squatted 445 pounds.

Alton Wright lifted 323 pounds in the power clean and Baraka Atkins showed off his athleticism with a 34.5-inch vertical jump. Javon Nanton has added nearly 20 pounds to his 6-foot-3 frame and weighs around 240 pounds now. The added weight helped him in the bench press with a lift of 345 pounds.

"With Vince Wilfork gone Orien Harris has really stepped up as a leader," Swasey said. "Santonio Thomas has been doing a good job of stepping up as well.

Best Performer: Eric Moncur. The former Carol City standout didn't arrive on campus until December, but was able to maintain his strength. With six defensive ends ahead of him on the depth chart he is a candidate for a redshirt this season.

Linebackers

All three starting linebackers posted extremely good short shuttle numbers. Roger McIntosh led the group with a time of 4.04. Leon Williams (4.16) and Tavares Gooden (4.21) both finished in the team's top ten list.

"With the linebacker corps you have to give guys time to find their identity," Swasey said. "I think Leon will step up this fall. I also think Tavares is poised for a breakout season."

Williams is the biggest of the group at 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds and had the best bench press in the trio at 375 pounds. He had a vertical jump of 34 inches.

Gooden, another guy that can dunk a basketball with ease, registered a 34.5-inch vertical jump.

Best Performer: Roger McIntosh. He dominated the numbers amongst linebackers posting the best squat (455), power clean (308), vertical jump (39"), short shuttle (4.04), 40-yard dash (4.36), and 10-yard split (1.51).

Defensive Backs

You can't teach speed. And without a doubt these groups of defensive backs are fast. Fast and athletic.

Junior Marcus Maxey (6-3, 200) ran the best 40-yard dash time on the team at 4.25 barely beating Kelly Jennings, 4.26, for the top honor. Tanard Davis (4.30), Joe Tolliver (4.35), Antrel Rolle (4.37), and Greg Threat (4.44) also posted solid 40 times.

"I think all of these guys have good speed and athleticism," Swasey said. "I think Greg Threat has done a good job of working hard and I think he will have a solid season for us."

Glenn Sharpe ran a 4.30 40-yard dash after suffering an ACL injury on November 8. His 10-yard split was 1.45, good for sixth-best on the team.

"I think the trainers did a great job of getting Sharpe back. They kept him on a good schedule. The key was to not let him get too far out of the loop. Now he just needs to get back in here to start the summer off. Really right now, he is back to where he was before he got hurt. It is a credit to the training room, but also to Glenn. He worked hard to get back."

It came as no surprise that Rolle would have a solid short shuttle time (4.01), best amongst defensive backs and second on the team. He had a 1.49 10-yard split during the 40-yard dash. He was the only defensive back to be in the top ten in power clean lifting 313 pounds.

The vertical jump test showed the athleticism of the group. Maxey posted the best jump on the team (40"). Davis (37.5"), Tolliver (35"), and Brandon Meriweather (34") also have good jumping ability.

Best Performer: Marcus Maxey. In the testing he showed why he is considered the most athletic defensive back on the team. At 6-foot-3 and lightning quick feet he has the potential to be a solid cornerback if he makes the shift from free safety full-time.

Punters

Brian Monroe posted the fifth-best short shuttle time (4.06) on the team. Only Kevin Everett (3.99), Rolle (4.01), McIntosh (4.04), and Tolliver (4.04) recorded better times. He has gained weight in the off-season and hopes to be at around 200 pounds this fall.

Summer Workouts

The team begins summer workouts on today. There first block of workouts will go for five weeks then they will have a break during intersession, then go back at it.

"The mentality of it all allows the players to gel. It is a time to find out about guys and push them to get better. It is the building of their season because during the season you cant really hit the weights like they can in the summer."

Tomorrow - Part 5: "Making a Difference With the Players"

Christopher Stock is a Staff Columnist for CanesTime and can be contacted by emailing him at stock@grassy.com.

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