Coach Woodfin goes in depth to talk about individual players and their gains made from winter work-outs

Zac Woodfin goes into detail about gains made from winter work-outs, in part three of our interview with the Southern Miss strength and conditioning coordinator.

In parts one and two with Coach Woodfin, we took an inside look at the winter-work outs and the differences between the winter and summer.  We also saw how Woodfin utilized a different format this winter to better focus in on individual needs for the players.  

For this last portion of our three part overview with Coach Woodfin, we will get his take on individual leaders and significant gains made from the players themselves. 

Where some strength and conditioning coordinators don't like to talk about individual players, Woodfin is quick to point out guys that have made significant growth during his time with them.  

In this format, we are going to let Coach Woodfin walk through each position group and point out guys he feels have really stood out and made some gains either strength wise, or guys who have shown great leadership for the Eagles.  

Offensive Line:

"The guys that are returning for us, our center Cameron Tom, Devin Farrior and Brandon Farmer really led well.  They all had a great winter and are right where they need to be.  They were in our advanced group and took the lead, they were outspoken leaders who wouldn't let anyone quit.  I have talked about our guys in the trenches and have really challenged them to be the leaders of this team, and these three guys have accepted the challenge this year and you are going to see really great things from these guys."


"Well, you know Nick has just continued to grow as our captain and our leader.  He has gotten a lot stronger.  Our goal was to get him up around 210 to start the season and finish his senior year strong.  He's around 204 right now.  There was a big emphasis on his lower body, his hips, legs, trunk, and lower back to really get stronger.  I'm confident we will have him at 210 to start the year off.  He's feeling better than he ever has and he is our unquestioned leader."

Running back:

"Ito Smith has had an awesome off season and he's up to around 200 pounds.  He played the majority of last season at 188 and we wanted to get his weight up because of the bulk of the carries he's going to get.  Just his level of professionalism and how he's approached his training and nutrition has just really been exceptional and I think he understands his role is going to be tremendous this year.  He's as strong and powerful as he's ever been in his life right now.  He's just come on so far and I expect huge things from him this year."

Wide Receiver:

"Well I'll tell you D.J. Thompson and Korey Robertson have made some incredible strides and we expect big things from them.  They've both gotten faster and stronger.  I'm really excited to see some of our Junior College kids get out there because they have come in and have been very professional with timing and accountability and doing extra.  They've been catching balls with Nick and are working hard on getting chemistry with him.  Shannon Smith and Allanzae Staggers I'm so excited to see compete and they are really going to help us."

Defensive Line:

"Guys who have proven we can count on are getting it done again, and Dylan Bradley has just had a tremendous winter and was in that advanced group that pushed it to another level.  Xavier Thigpen has had a tremendous winter and is getting closer and closer to that 250 mark which is a goal he set for himself.  He's hovering around 245 right now but he will get there by the time the season starts.  He's a guy that I was talking about that has really called out others to push them in a good way.  From a leadership standpoint he's emerged and has policed the team in how our culture has to role.  He has a very bright future and can go as far as he can go.  He's figured that out now, and is understanding if he puts more and more time into this then he knows he can really be a special player.  He has come in extra and is doing the little things like being in control of his nutrition.  He's really, really had a great off-season and I'm excited for him and what he can do.  Darian Yancey is an emerging player who has had a tremendous off season.  Everything we ask out of Yancey and more, he does for us.  He's a go the extra mile kinda guy too."


"Losing Kalan Reed we need guys that will step up and compete and take his leadership role.  Cornell Armstrong has been a guy that has started to do that.  He's had a great off season and has really matured.  He's one that we had to count on and he's taking a step in his maturity and his daily training.  I'm so pround of how far he has come.  D'Nerius Antione is always one of our leaders and is such a high energy guy.  Devonta Foster is another leader who knows he has to be a leader back there.  There are a lot of guys that can play back there.  At corner, there is going to be a battle with Ernest Gunn who has really emerged and will surprise some people.  Curtis Mikel shows just tremendous speed and quickness.  Trae Collins also has been right there and there is going to be tremendous competition for that spot.  All these guys have been fighting for it and I've seen those battles translate to them competing in the weight room.  It is a healthy competition and its only going to make these guys better."


"The stand-out at linebacker has been Elijah Parker.  I think he's going to have a break out year just from how he prepares, to how powerful and fast he is.  He's a football player who has all the intangibles.  He's up to around 220 which is going to help him so much with the wear and tear on a linebacker.  He played around 212 last year and this year he'll roll into the season at about 225.  He made a lot of plays for us and he's going to be just a beast this year and will continue to make a tremendous amount of plays for us.  At the other linebacker position there is going to be a battle for those spots.  With C.J. Perry and Jeremy Sangster, both of who have made some really nice gains and I'm excited for them.  The Linebackers are working hard to improve their speed in this defense and you are going to see some great things from them this year."

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