A Day In The Life

From 7:00 a.m. lifting to late-night film sessions, a major Division I-A football player's life is nearly as structured as that of the military. Don't believe they earn their room and board and scholarship? Read on.

"Today I was up at 6:30 a.m.," West Virginia bandit Mike Lorello said on Wednesday. "I came over here (Puskar Center) and lifted for about an hour, made breakfast, took a shower, took a test, took another test."

Whoa, Mike. Easy. A point-by-point might clarify. You're moving fast, here.

"Well, the season has gone pretty fast. I don't know if it is because the time is so structured or because that if you're having success it makes things a little easier," Lorello said.

Winning means less Rodriguez in his face and Tall on his other end. Still, a gander at the basic slate for an average player reveals just how much time is dedicated to University and athletic pursuits daily and raises questions like "How do any players find time to get into trouble?"

7:00 - 8:00 a.m. Lift at WVU's Puskar Center. The players will work different aspects, from core work (abs, chest, etc.) to legs to explosion, etc. Injured players also receive treatment, meaning the training/medical staff must be there as well.

8:00 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. Breakfast, showering, getting to classes, etc.

9:30 a.m.-12:30 or 1:30 p.m. Classes. Most players fit in three morning classes, and only take night ones as needed. Players typically carry from 12-15 hours per semester. The minimum load for full-time status is 12 hours. Lorello happened to have two tests that day, a not-too-uncommon occurrence, especially this time of year.

Majors are as varied as personalities, from athletic coaching and communications to sociology, anthropology, history or biology. Some, like Jeremy Sheffey, even have a double-major (athletic coaching and sport behavior).

Players must attend classes because, unlike the general student population, they have coaches and staff checking attendance. A no-show equals in-house discipline. That might be why the football team has had better graduation rate that the general student population for years.

3:30 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. (Roughly) Practice. It ranges from a light contact day to a full-go, especially in the middle of the week. Packages are installed, new plays practiced, base work put in. Fundamentals are often gone over again, especially if the team seems to have lost its crispness in the last few games. The Pitt game plan is currently being installed, and both teams have the advantage of extra days before the game.

6:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. Dinner. Players eat at WVU's training table. The spread is very good, with foods ranging from basic staples and soups to full entrees. Frozen yogurt is also offered, as are numerous beverages.

"At least that way you have some idea of what they are eating," Rodriguez said. "A lot of these guys love fast food. Our linemen go on road trips and gain six or seven pounds. So sometimes you have to watch. The don't eat breakfast or don't eat properly and it affects their energy level."

Lorello typically watches film after the practice, as do most players. The team will also break down into units, either before practice or after, and have film sessions with their respective coach.

"After that, if I have homework, I will do that," Lorello said. He has complete access, like other players, to WVU's football study area, complete with computers and academic advisors, which can be used as needed.

"Otherwise I'll go home and sit on the couch. I maybe take a nap right after class if I can. Then I go to bed and start all over again."

The schedule has surprisingly not affected the players as much as fans might have thought. West Virginia had the longest off-period in school history (18 days) because of the postponement of the South Florida game. The Mountaineers also did not play a Saturday game in November and have two weeks between Cincinnati and Pitt.

"You do get into a routine," Lorello said. "and if something breaks that routine, like midweek games or a long time between games, then it's very different. So when we have those mid-week games, I couldn't really tell you what day it was. For me, I go by the days of practice. So this Saturday is about a Tuesday for us. So even school days, I can't tell you classes and stuff because I go by practices.

"But this is a big one for us, and I'm sure nobody will have a hard time focusing. I am enjoying all of it, because this is the last time I will do all of it, the last time I'll walk onto that field as a player. It's been amazingly fast."

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