New Strength & Conditioning Coach Aaron Ausmus didn't know what to expect when he tested the Rebel football team last week in the 40-yard dash, but when all the smoke had cleared, Ausmus had a smile on his face.
"Our team speed is very good," declared Ausmus. "We compared favorably to the numbers I am aware of at programs like Southern Cal and Tennessee. I'm not saying I was surprised, but I was certainly pleased."
And it wasn't just the times Ausmus was speaking of in terms of his satisfaction.
"The guys prepared hard for a week and a half aimed exclusively at the 40 test. We worked on form - stances, starts, body lean, etc. - and we worked out with smaller weights, moving the bar as fast as we could," Ausmus explained. "Our whole focus was on speed and their attitude of attacking that goal was excellent.
"As a result, they ran faster than we were anticipating and predicted. I think the way they attacked the mission reflects on the attitude of always competing that Coach (Ed) Orgeron is trying to instill in them and on the competitive environment we are establishing in the weight room."
The Rebs ran based on hand-held times with the stopwatch starting at first movement. Ausmus uses a system with some checks and balances.
"The kids run two sprints each. We have two clocks on each run, which gives us four total times. We throw out the fastest and the slowest - to allow for human error - and we average the two in the middle to get their final time," he explained.
As is the case with most college football staffs, an entire list of 40 times is not available to the public, for obvious reasons, but the following are the highlights.
"On the offensive line, David Traxler and Darryl Harris were our top producers, running 5.2s," Ausmus began. "At tight end, Robert Hough turned in a 4.6, best among the candidates at that position. At fullback, Jason Cook ran a 4.6. At tailback, Vashon Pearson was tops at 4.38 while BenJarvus Green-Ellis was next at 4.47."
The wide receivers lit Ausmus up.
"We had a couple of eye-openers in that group. Taye Biddle ran a 4.26, Mike Espy and Mike Wallace ran 4.31s," he continued. "At quarterback, Micheal Spurlock turned in a 4.42 time in the 40."
On defense, the linebackers drew Ausmus' praise.
"Our three starting linebackers coming out of spring were pretty special. Patrick Willis ran a 4.46, which is moving for a 235-pound guy. Dontae Reed ran a 4.50 and Kelvin Robinson ran a 4.6," he explained. "Those times are all faster than the USC linebackers from last year, I have been told.
"At safety, a newcomer to the position, Mico McSwain, ran a 4.46 and Jamarca Sanford, a starter out of spring, ran a 4.43. At cornerback, we are also pretty good. Trumaine McBride ran a 4.41 and Travis Johnson turned in a 4.47."
Along the defensive front, Ausmus singled out two - Chris Bowers at a 4.79 and Corvelli Haynes at a 4.68.
The Rebs will begin summer workouts on May 31st. In June, they will work out four days a week. In July, that will be upped to five times a week.
"We will have two workout times in the morning and one in the afternoon so we can work around everyone's class schedule," Ausmus explained. "The reason we will go to five days a week in July is to get them ready for the rigors of fall camp, when days off are rare and you have to be in top condition.
"Basically, we will do more speed work on Mondays and Thursdays and more power work on Tuesdays and Fridays. Mixing it up like that will give their bodies time to recover while still getting the most gains."
The Rebs will max out on the clean, bench and squat right before the break between summer semesters, around the first of July.
Football team tests in 40-yard dash
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