“Looking at our program this year from a 7-on-7 standpoint, every on of our kids has an early Division-1 offer, which is great,” Ford said. “It’s fantastic. I think Washington playing well, college football sheds a little more light on the fact that there’s talent in this area. It’s a lot different than it was five or 10 years ago.”
There’s no question a ton has changed in the last decade. Training has become highly specialized, and it’s now going year-round as players look for that edge to earn coveted scholarship offers, move up college depth charts, and hone their bodies and techniques as they shoot for their chance to play football professionally.
Ford has trained Washington 2017 signees Hunter Bryant and Salvon Ahmed for some time now, and he believe they have a chance to be great. When asked about their individual targeted training regimens, Ford was clear that each player is working on specific aspects to enhance their prospects at their respective positions.
“The biggest thing for Hunter is just being able to be flexible, have a great range of motion, to continue to work on his bending,” Ford said of the future Husky tight end. “And a lot of the footwork stuff, more the straight-ahead speed for him. That’s been a primary focus, to keep getting him faster. He’s a strong kid naturally. We’ve got to tone him down a little bit in the weight room. But the primary focus is being sudden and being fast in and out of his breaks, working on his linear speed, change of direction, and flexibility - range of motion.
“For him, we don’t want him to be 255, 260 (pounds). He’s really lean right now. He’s probably around 11 percent body fat. He’s a really lean 245. That’s kind of where we want to keep him. He has the ability to get big and he’s still young, 17 years old. We’re trying to make sure he doesn’t get too big too fast.”
What about Ahmed? Salvon wowed fans at The Opening last summer, clocking the fastest 40 time at the national event, a 4.32.
“He’s another model kid in our program,” Ford said of the future UW running back. “He saw Budda (Baker) go through it, he saw Myles (Gaskin) and those guys go through it. He was kind of a front-runner to be the model kid for the next generation. He’s dedicated. He saw those guys work. Yes, he’s talented but he has to continue to work hard because that’s the model. He’s got to be the guy that has talent and works hard. It can’t be one or the other with him. He’s taken pride in that and it’s pretty amazing to see him and that whole group of guys in there working. It’s awesome.
“A lot of stuff for him is just speed. Speed and strength. I want to continue to help him be stronger because we don’t know what he’s going to come in and play. I know he’s slated to come in and play running back, so the biggest thing for him is that he’s got to be strong enough to protect. He’s got to be able to chip out d-linemen and outside ‘backers and fit those guys up in the hole, so the biggest thing for him is - like I told him - hey, we’ve got to be strong. I keep telling him that and he keeps saying Tracy, that’s why I’m in here working!
“It’s pretty amazing to see him and the other group of guys that are in there. They understand they are getting ready to play Division-1 football at a high level, and those kids want to play. They’re not in it to say hey, I got a scholarship. They are in it to say hey, I’m here to make an impact for my team. They’ve dedicated themselves to that and are great role models for the younger kids in our program.”
There’s no question when it comes to the camaraderie that’s been established through the ranks at Ford Sports Performance, from the guys going through NFL Draft prep to the college guys trying to find that edge during the off-season to the youngest kids in the program.
Ford is working with a handful of future area stars, including top 2018 defensive back Kyler Gordon, as well as a trio of 2020 prospects from Eastside Catholic - Gee Scott, DJ Rogers, and Ayden Hector.
“With Myles, again a lot of stuff is pass pro with him,” Ford said when asked about the points of emphasis Gaskin has targeted during the off-season. “He doesn’t want to be the guy that has to come out on passing downs. He wants to be technically sound enough to be able to be in there. He doesn’t want to be known as a scat back. So a lot of it is working on his instincts and feel and outside zone and scan and pass protect, pick up backside and seeing backside and edge pressure. That’s been a real focus for him.
“What’s crazy is that the kid is dedicated! He comes in faithfully two or three days a week where he wants to do extra. Nothing super taxing, but a lot of core, injury prevention stuff for him because he knows the biggest thing is that he’s got to be healthy for the season.”
And Wellington? “He’s usually in there a lot,” Ford said. “He wants to make that transition to more of a hybrid DB than a MIK linebacker, so he’s working a lot of his DB and technical skills. He’s brought in Byron Murphy this off-season.
“For those guys it’s just a lot of technical stuff, working their feet. Just the little stuff they could do on their own but they want somebody there to monitor them and be able to critique them from a professional standpoint. They want the extra work to be great.”
Ford has sensed a bit of an uptick in intensity when it comes to the Huskies he trains. He points directly to how Washington did this past season.
“Talking with Myles and some of those other guys, I think that’s the standard and the bar has been raised to an elite level,” he said. “That final four appearance was huge. They’ve all taken that and used it as more motivation and now understand that they are a program at that level.
“Up front they return almost everybody. I know offensively they are really confident and defensively as well. Speaking with a lot of the guys in the secondary, there’s nothing they think that takes them away from the idea of stepping into roles that that talented group left.”