Offseason Closes With Competition Day

With spring football beginning Monday, this is the week the offseason program wraps up. The offseason, under the direction of associate athletic director for strength and conditioning Rob Glass and his staff, concludes with a team run Thursday and the final 6 a.m. stadium steps workout Friday. Tuesday was one of the most popular events, the BCS National Championship matchup of competition day.

While teams under the director of every assistant coach were competing it was the teams of associate head coach Joe DeForest and cornerbacks coach Jason Jones that earned their way through the bracket to the championship.

"Coach Glass and our strength staff do a tremendous job with it," said head coach Mike Gundy. "Each year they have added some new activities, the tug-of-war, the one-on-one tug-of-war.

"It's a lot of fun. It makes it enjoyable for the players. They are getting competition and a lot of quality work. They learn to support each other. It gives them something to look forward to and they can kind of rib each other about who wins and who loses. I know as a coach it is one of the most fun times of the year for me to be out here with the players while they are competing," Gundy added.

Team DeForest and Team Jones had a closely contested final as they worked through the eight events -- weighted sled pull, tire roll, ladders sprints, three cone drill, tug-of-way, one-on-oine tug-of-war, bag drills, and obstacle course.

In the sled pull competition, defensive end Ugo Chinasa, with a close finish against linebacker Orie Lemon, and wide receiver DeMarcus Conner, with a big win, paced Team Jones to a 6-2 lead. Newcomer on campus Dexter Pratt scored an extremely tight win over fellow running back Kye Staley for another win for Team Jones on the event.

The two teams split on the tire roll, 4-4. Winners for Team Jones of the event, where you roll a tractor tire over and over covering 40 yards faster than your opponent, were cornerback Broderick Brown, tight end Ben Bailey, newcomer Walker Smith, and safety Lucien Antoine. Winners in the event for Team DeForest included Kye Staley, defensive end Jamie Blatnick, offensive lineman Nick Martinez, and safety Johnny Thomas.

After the ladders and three-cone drills the gap had really narrowed as Team Jones led 17-15. The first three tug-of-war reps are team battles with teams of four athletes going against each other and Team Jones took two of the three contests.

Then it got really crazy with the new individual tug-of-war event. Each player has a hold of two grips on the two sides of the plastic device and then they pull until they get the device and the opponent over the line required to win. There is a five-yard neutral zone.

In a battle of big men, offensive guard Noah Franklin defeated fellow offensive lineman Nick Martinez in a hard fought skirmish. Linebacker Orie Lemon of Team DeForest pulled Ugo Chinasa across the line as Chinasa was hopping up and down on one foot trying to maintain his balance. There were two amazing heats that seemed to go on for a long time as the freshman Pratt won out over redshirt freshman Kye Staley in an extended battle.

The best of the one-on-one tug-of-war came as wide receiver Hubert Anyiam of Team DeForest battled walk-on linebacker Johnny Cockrell. It seemed to go on for five minutes but in reality was much shorter. Anyiam had Cockrell on the turf and was pulling him toward his victory line when Cockrell regained his feet and showed a renewed surge of energy and finally twisting and turning got Anyiam over the line.

Following the tug-of-wars Team Jones led 23-20 over Team DeForest.

"Johnnie is pretty good at that one-on-one tug-of-war," said Jason Jones. "He fought and the guys knew that he could do it and they rallied around him and cheered him on. He hit the ground and got back up and it was a heck of a battle."

"He did a great job and he is still young in the program," said Gundy of Cockrell. "Those guys (walk-ons) have a chance to have some success on the field. You see them smile and they are having fun. It's just a great event for the team."

After the bag drills, it was still anybody's to win as Team Jones led 26-24. But then the hammer came on the obstacle course, which consists of a bear crawl, one-man sled push, a shuffle through bags, run around a large circle hoop, and then a rip move around a dummy and a sprint to the finish.

Noah Franklin, Johnnie Cockrell, wide receiver Nathan Gilsleider, and DeMarcus Conner, the captain of Team Jones, ripped off four wins in a row to start the obstacle course and put the contest away. Team Jones finished with a 33-25 win.

"I left it up to DeMarcus Conner and he was the captain of the team," said Cowboys cornerbacks coach Jason Jones in deflecting the credit to his players. "He picked his guys and he was the leader.

"DeMarcus, Ugo, and Noah provided great leadership and encouraged each one of the guys to compete hard in each drill. We jumped ahead with the sleds and Coach DeForest had some guys on his team with good speed, Johnny Thomas and Hubert Anyiam, and DeMarcus and Ugo just stayed on our guys about finishing. That has been our motto in the offseason, finish."

The Team Jones winners included captain and wide receiver DeMarcus Conner, defensive end Ugo Chinasa, offensive guard Noah Franklin, offensive guard Ahmad Jones, safety Lucien Antoine, tight end Ben Bailey, cornerback Broderick Brown, wide receiver Nathan Gilsleider, deep snapper Marc Yerry, running back Dexter Pratt, defensive back Walker Smith, and linebacker Johnnie Cockrell.

Here is a scoring summary of the contest:
Event (Team Jones points- Team DeForest points)
Sled Pull: 6-2
Tire Roll: 4-4
Ladders: 2-6
3-cone: 5-3
Tug-of-war: 2-1
1v1 Tug: 4-4
Bags: 3-4 (There was one double DQ)
Obstacle: 7-1
Total: 33-25

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