VandyMania Interview: Coach John Sisk

In preparation for the 2004 season, Vanderbilt's football team continues to work in the weight room daily under the supervision of John Sisk, Director of Speed, Strength and Agility. Which players have made the most progress, and which are recognized as the team's "weight-room animals"? VandyMania chatted with Sisk recently about the team's progress and Sisk's plans for increasing the team's strength and agility over the spring and summer.

VandyMania: Overall, how would you say the effort has been in the weight room, starting in January and running up through today?

Coach John Sisk: We had a great offseason. We had about five weeks before spring ball started. We emphasized getting bigger and stronger. We didn't emphasize a lot of conditioning. We lifted two days a week, on Tuesday and Thursday. We also had kind of an "agility day" twice a week with our coaching staff. Monday and Wednesday were agility days-- no lifting, just a lot of agilities. Then on Friday mornings we brought the whole team in at 5:30 in the morning. So we had the whole team in there with our coaches doing some kind of station work in the weight room-- kind of a team bonding deal. Getting up early in the morning was a good thing-- we had total attendance by everybody. I'm pleased to say, no one was ever late for 5:30 in the morning workouts, which was great. You look for those things. You look for leaders to pop up in the weight room. A lot of guys did a great job.

VandyMania: Everyone wants to know-- what players have been the real weight-room animals lately?

Coach John Sisk: Of course [offensive tackle] Justin Geisinger is a guy who always does a great job in the weight room. His previous best going into this offseason was 580 pounds on the bench. He just recently did 600 pounds on the bench. He lifted 225 pounds, if I'm not mistaken, 43 times, and he'll probably do better than that. Also, [defensive tackle] Matt Clay is a guy who squatted 665 pounds, and bench-pressed 500 pounds. [Defensive lineman] Ray Brown recently squatted 670 and set a new team record for our linemen. [Fullback] Matthew Tant squatted 670, and did 500 for ten reps on the squat. So right now we have three guys who bench-press 500 pounds or better on our team.

[Defensive end] Jovan Haye, who was a guy who weighed 245 pounds when we got here as a staff, weighs 280 now. He's also increased his speed. He bench-pressed 425 pounds, and-- I can't remember off the top of my head what he squatted, but he had a great offseason. [Running back] Norval McKenzie benched 405.

In total, our whole team has gotten bigger and stronger. We're kind of in the stretch-training phase of it now. We have three weeks after spring practice that we'll do something five days a week. After that, the NCAA mandates eight weeks of discretionary time. We've already had one [spring break week]. Two will be the week before exams and the week of exams. Then we'll have the rest of them during the summer. They'll have the whole month of May off, and they'll have one more before practice starts in August. We'll have the majority of the kids here in May, and we'll be working with those guys around their schedules. We'll have more of a scheduled thing in June and July. A lot of our freshman signees plan to be with us in June. We're excited about getting all those guys here and getting them ready to go.

VandyMania: Are you planning an iron-man competition this spring like you've had in the past?

Coach John Sisk: We're going to try to do that during the summer instead, and it's going to be a little different. Instead of doing one big event, we're going to try to have a little more competition during the summer since we'll have the majority of them here. We'll do an event during each week all summer, and they'll accumulate points for their team. Also, any personal records they set during the summer will go toward their team's record. They'll earn points. We plan to have a draft before they go home in May and divide them up into teams. Top Stories