Lobendahn gears up for spring

Now that Ben Mahdavi has graduated, the MIKE 'backer job is Joe Lobendahn's to lose. Even though it doesn't seem like it, Joe will be a junior this fall, giving him two full years to fulfill the promise he had coming through the ranks as a brutal special-teamer on the wedge. His fearlessness on the field won him admirers early. So what is he doing to make sure he's ready to plug the middle this fall?

"Conditioning is going well for me," Lobendahn told Dawgman.com. "One thing that's getting better for me is weights. I'm getting a lot stronger and faster too. I've gained 10 pounds from last year and I'm surprised that I'm getting faster at that weight.

"Right now I feel great conditioning-wise and I can't wait until spring ball and I'll show you what I can do."

At 5-11 and now a rock-solid 235 pounds, Joe is known for his immediate burst off the ball. He takes immense pride in the fact that he's among the top-3 team-wide when it comes to the 10-yard dash. It's that kind of burst that will give him the edge he needs while tracking down ballcarriers.

"For me, I think that's all you need on the football field," said Lobendahn. "10 yards to get to the running back, so you just need that burst from the start."

And Joe's also noticed a team change already from last year. "Going into this year we came together as one, one heartbeat," he said, pointing to the winter conditioning as a focal point. "I think last year we weren't that close compared to this year. I think it's going to be a great year this year."

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