Inside Mike Leach's Midnight Maneuvers

PULLMAN— Freshmen running back Teondray Caldwell arrived in Pullman a little over a month ago and loves everything about Washington State. Well, almost everything. Mike Leach's renowned "Midnight Maneuvers" came to a close last Thursday and nobody was happier about it than the 5-11, 205-pound running back.

"It was probably the worst workout experience I've ever had in my life!" Teondray Caldwell said. "It helped a lot with toughness but definitely, the hardest workouts and longest two weeks I've ever had."

Caldwell said agility and footwork were stressed. (In Mike Leach's book, "Swing Your Sword", he said bear crawls, dot drills and obstacle courses were among the workout stations at Texas Tech.) Caldwell said that by the time the ninth and final station was completed for the evening, he would be dripping sweat and his entire body felt like it was ready to cramp.

Midnight Maneuvers, with team building also among the primary focuses, dates back to Leach's days at Tech. Caldwell said the workouts never actually got to midnight but said the 10 p.m. start did require an adjustment. In his book Leach wrote that he likes the late start because that was often when Tech, in their late games, would be playing in the fourth quarter.

CALDWELL SAID he quickly learned the maneuvers were nothing to take lightly, that he had to make sure he was 100 percent ready to go as soon as he entered the gym. The workouts were so intense, he said, that his adrenaline rush would keep him awake long into the night.

"You have to base your whole day around that," Caldwell said. "Anything you'd do throughout the day was based around being prepared for Midnight Maneuvers at 10 o'clock -- and sleeping afterwards wasn't happening. I wouldn't go to sleep until about 2:30 or 3 a.m."

CALDWELL WASN'T ALONE. Denzell Dotson, who graduated high school early and enrolled this semester, shared Caldwell's take on how difficult the drills were.

Dotson said he's even been in constant communication with his fellow 2012 classmates who will be arriving in the summer, telling them running at least a mile a day is the best advice he can give in preparation for what's to come.

"It's very tough," Dotson said. "It's exhausting and you really want to be in great shape before they start or else you'll end up throwing up or getting light headed. It's not a joke."

According to Caldwell, the night's workout is broken down into nine stations. Each player will be at a station for three minutes, and given one minute of rest in between. Each station focuses on footwork, agility and it goes without saying, conditioning.

Dotson added that at the end of each station, the player would be evaluated. A tally would also be recorded at the end of the night. Players would then be given a shirt to wear the next day based on their performance.

A black shirt was given for busting your tail off, a gray shirt if your work was satisfactory, and a pink shirt if your effort was lackluster.

Caldwell was one of the athletes who endured the privilege of donning the manly pink.

"I actually got a pink shirt after my first day," Caldwell said with a smile. "The next week I ended up with two more pink shirts as well on back-to-back days. It's tough knowing you received a pink shirt but it just pushes you and makes you go into every workout focused on getting better."

BOTH COUGAR ROOKIES told CF.C although the drills were thoroughly exhausting, they were excited about them because it gave them a taste of big-time college football.

Dotson stands 6-3 and weighs 315 pounds and the WSU coaches have projected him as an interior lineman (center or guard). Dotson said he's most comfortable at left guard but added he will play any other position, including center.

As for Caldwell, the last time he played football was in December of 2010. Caldwell originally signed with Nevada out of high school as part of their 2011 class but never enrolled and spent the fall getting his academic qualifications in order. Caldwell told CF.C he's never been hungrier to see the gridiron, and spring football at WSU can't come soon enough.

"I want to be considered as one of the best running backs on the team," Caldwell said. "I don't want to be redshirted. I want to at least be on the travel team and be able to show my talent."

NOTABLE NOTE: The NCAA allows a two-week winter conditioning circuit during the offseason. The supervised workouts are capped at two hours per and at eight hours per week.

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