It is a format that associate athletic director for strength, speed, and conditioning Rob Glass brought with him from Florida. It promotes competition and still provides work toward the goals the staff has in the offseason.
The events include weighted sled pull, tractor tire flip, short and long pro agility drills, team and individual tug-o-war, bag drills, and obstacle course.
There are eight teams, each captained by a player. In the past they would have a coordinator or assistant coach assigned to each team, but now the draft and the lead is left up to players.
The teams this spring are captained by quarterback Mason Rudolph, quarterback J.W. Walsh, slot receiver David Glidden, offensive tackle Zach Crabtree, linebacker Ryan Simmons, safety Jordan Sterns, cornerback Kevin Peterson, and either Emmanuel Ogbah or Jimmy Bean (I didn't catch the other captain).
Tuesday was a non-elimination bracket seeding day of competition for the tournament that will begin next week, with the countdown to the national championship match the week before spring football begins on March 9. I was trying to eye ball new guys that came in at mid-year.
There are close to 90 players going through off-season right now, and they will likely be joined by a few walk-ons that will be added after today's walk-on tryouts for on-campus students. The big number of players in offseason is further evidence of how much this team has returning for next season.
I'll start with quarterback and as expected Mason Rudolph looks good and physically in top shape. He played just the last three games, so he was not worn down by the season like Daxx Garman. J.W. Walsh is working toward getting his full speed back and he seems to be close, and is working that extra you expect out of Walsh. He is a good leader and a good person to have on your team.
I did eyeball the running backs and what I saw was Rennie Childs in top shape. Childs looks like he is ready to start a new season and I was told he was very fast in 40-yard dash testing as he ran right at a 4.4. I've wondered how Childs was taking all the happenings in recruiting as the coaching staff recruited furiously to add running backs. I think he is serious about being the top guy and that is good news.
Todd Mays and Childs are on the same team with Crabtree as the captain, and Mays is closer to 5-11, 190 pounds than 6-0, 200 that was listed at East Mississippi Community College. Mays looks to be in good shape.
Speaking of Crabtree, he went against friend and fellow offensive lineman Michael Wilson in the pro agility drill. The two finished a split second apart with Crabtree winning by an eyelash. Both big guys move well.
Another big guy that moves really well is UAB transfer offensive tackle Victor Salako. He may be 6-6, 341 pounds, but he went against a skill player on the pro agility I was watching and drew oohs and ahhs from the coaches watching as he was competitive. He has superior agility for a guy his size.
I also eyeballed Jesse Robinson and he is looking good in offseason work. Robinson is credited with being very athletic for a big guy and made a difference in the offensive line after being inserted to the first unit in the Baylor game. New junior college additions Brandon Pertile and Matt Kellerman both look the part and seem to be acclimating into the offseason workouts.
Several players are rehabbing injuries and postseason surgery including Seth Jacobs and one of the captains David Glidden. Glidden said he only needs one arm to compete.
One receiver that looks really good is Brandon Sheperd as I thought he looked like his shoulders were more broad than I remembered. There is no doubt he put more on his shoulders down the stretch of the season. That is not a pun, I really think he looks bigger and strong in the upper body.
Another powerful looking athlete at receiver is former Edmond All-Stater, NEO all-conference performer and walk-on Kameron Doolittle. Doolittle is kicking it in high gear these days after a solid season. He also ran 4.4 and change in the 40 testing. Running backs coach Jemal Singleton was complimentary of his work ethic and what he was doing.
Defensively, I focused on the defensive linemen. I was very impressed with Vili Levini, Emmanuel Ogbah, and newcomer Motekiai Maile. I saw all working in the power events on either sled or tire flip and actually also saw them on the team tug-o-war. You want to see somebody that competes at a high level in everything he does then just watch Jordan Sterns as he really gets after it.
That is just a taste as you can't see everybody and I will try to mix it up with a couple of other looks and we will give you some coverage of the semifinals and the national championship of competition day in a few weeks.