Wulff putting Cougs through intense workouts

LESS THAN 24 HOURS after the 2008 recruiting class was signed and sealed, Cougar head football coach Paul Wulff had his veterans out on the field at 6 a.m. for conditioning drills -- ones that left a number of well conditioned players gassed. The cardio bootcamp will run until spring workouts begin March 17.

Unlike other times during the offseason where strength coach Rob Oviatt will be the Cougars' point man, the time between now and spring ball will see the WSU coaches directly involved two days a week.

These offseason sessions which began on Thursday of last week focus mostly on conditioning and agility drills. By rule, there are no pads, no blocking sleds.

There's not even a football to throw around.

That does not, however, mean the sessions lack for intensity or that the players will just cruise through them. It is not uncommon to see a few players beeline for a garbage can and lose their breakfasts during these first workouts of the new year, and Thursday was no exception.

WULFF AND CREW came on board in mid-December and the staff wasn't finalized until the first week of January. From the moment they arrived, the clear priority was recruiting. This is now the first time the staff can truly start to get a feel for what they have in-house and how to strategize in going forward.

Any workout is going to be competitive but the level of intensity this time around is a little bit greater than normal -- it's a new staff at Washington State. The competition for jobs and playing time that will in some cases run through spring ball and fall camp began in earnest on Thursday.

Players are looking to impress coaches. Thursday was the first time they could do that on a football field, or in this case given the recent inclement weather, in the indoor practice facility.

Other questions will also begin to be answered through these workouts.

WHO WANTS TO compete -- and then who still wants to compete once fatigue sets in.

The players will work with coaches twice a week until spring ball, the other three days a week will be spent concentrating on the weights. Because of class schedules and different times of availability, the weightlifting sessions are not as universally structured as are the ones with the coaches.

THE SESSIONS AND weightlifting work are expected to last until the team gets into the more formal spring practice sessions, where pads and equipment are used and the sounds of full contact and scrimmages echo across the Palouse.

In the time after spring ball, coaches are soon on the road recruiting. The summer's voluntary offseason workouts are then supervised by a college's strength coach.

It is this time, however, that those all-important first impressions with a new staff will be made -- and the competition for starting jobs and playing time truly begins.

NOTABLE NOTE: Spring ball runs from March 17 - April 12.

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