Husky Football is not on vacation

The month of July might mean vacation time for the Husky coaches but not for the players. I stopped by the Dempsey Indoor Center the other day to get a feel for the summer program and found the 9 am group working hard on their running and conditioning.

Strength and Conditioning Coach Ivan Lewis and his staff meet the Husky players for three separate two-hour sessions every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday at 7 a.m., 9 a.m., and 11 a.m. On Friday the whole team works out at 6:30 a.m.

Unlike the winter off-season program, the players pick a session that matches with both or either their summer school classes or work schedule, but similar to the winter sessions everything is done on the hop and all of those participating looked fit and engaged.

The Huskies will remain on this schedule until the third week of July then they will be going every day. The team will be joined by the incoming class in two weeks and the rookies will be given the full introduction to the weight room in addition to their study skills presentations. Considering that most kids get into academic trouble their first year in school this program is proving to be a great starting point for their college educations.

Speaking of school, I also found it great to hear that this Husky team had a 2.71 overall team GPA for the spring quarter. After talking with Rod Jones, one of our ex-players working in the tutorial office, he thinks this is the best GPA the Huskies have produced as a team in decades. According to Jones, he thinks every single kid on scholarship is enrolled in at least a five-hour class, and those who do that for four years gain almost an extra quarter's worth of credits for graduation, another area where Husky football is one of the best in the conference.

For me that represents just another sign that the Steve Sarkisian system is firing on all cylinders.

I watched both phases of their conditioning and weights and in each part the kids were tuned in, competitive and having fun. The first part was stretching and conditioning, with lots of emphasis on running techniques as well as starting and change of direction. The group I watched had a number of speed players and they were competing on just about every sprint. Adam Long, Devin Aguilar, Jordan Polk, and others were actually racing each other on each rep.

Then they went into the weight room to complete their daily lifts in the power areas, with lots of emphasis on explosion and proper lifting techniques. Because it is so well organized the two hours have little or no down time.

In June the team had completed their end-of-the-year testing, and according to coach Lewis there were great gains in speed and reduction of body fat (They work the 225 bench press so they don't really max out for their strength). I noticed a distinct body change on a number of kids since last season. Some of the skilled players, like Quinton Richardson and Jordan Polk were both sporting improved sets of guns and proud of it.

Although the team as a whole is getting stronger in their power lifts there is an obvious emphasis on movement and speed.

Visiting with trainer Rob Scheidegger, he said that all the kids who missed spring drills due to injury or rehab are almost all ready to go. Considering that list would include kids like Chris Polk, Cody Habben, Victor Aiyewa and Everrette Thompson as well as the outstanding freshman running back Jesse Callier, it means the team will be at full strength when camp starts. Thompson is the one who has the longest mend due to his injury being one to an injured achilles.

Safeties coach Jeff Mills was taking a week of vacation to conduct a junior football camp in the stadium looking for future Dawgs, and Offensive Coordinator Doug Nussmeirer, whose kid just happened to be a camper, gave up his first week of vacation to work on their BYU game plan. All of the other coaches are on family time, but I promise you they are also thinking about football most of the time anyway. That's just the way it is: You can't get away from it, so why would you try? Your family gets used to it and your obsession becomes theirs.

Football isn't just a game when coaching or playing. It's your life.


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