Weighting For Football
Posted December 8, 2011
This Monday morning was not as quiet as you might assume at the Athletic Center.
This is the Monday after the win over Middle Tennessee we're talking about, the Monday after the last game of the 2011 season, the first Monday in months that North Texas football players were not preparing for a game.
And yet almost all of the Mean Green players were here at the Athletic Center. Not to clean out lockers, but to lift. To continue their strength and conditioning. And to find out what football strength coach Frank Wintrich has planned for them.
"It felt great," Wintrich said. "It was the look in their eyes, seeing them pushing each other, hearing their interaction. They like what they're doing and they're excited.
"They've been 22 weeks full-on playing football."
And Monday they were asking for more.
"They've started to see the reasons we do things," Wintrich said.
Wintrich, who is in his first year at North Texas, was hired to implement strength and conditioning specifically for the football program. What Wintrich introduced was a far greater intensity level than ever before at North Texas, and a far more personalized program. It's not a cookie-cutter weightlifting program; instead, it's tailored to individual kids, to the team's style of play and to the each player's position.
That personalization goes far beyond a player's level of fitness. For example, a middle linebacker may train differently than an outside linebacker, or a running quarterback will train differently than a pocket passer. Is a defensive end going to drop back into coverage? Is a running back going to run inside or will he be asked to catch passes?
"We've created a program to enable kids to do those things," Wintrich said.
Each player is presented with a packet outlining his work-out regimen, specific to his current status and with goals to reach. The program includes types of exercises, schedules, and diets with recommended foods and suggestions as to when to eat them, like breakfast or post-workout. It even has a shopping list for trips to the grocery.
From now until students return from the winter break, players have individual targets to meet. Upon their return, the real off-season program begins, and it kicks off with the Mean Green Championship Series, and off-season strength-and-conditioning competition.
Nine players have been selected as coaches - one offensive player, one defensive player, and one freshman for each of three teams. On January 16 at 7 p.m., they'll hold an NFL-style player draft, complete with food, drink, and Wintrich in a suit and tie acting as commissioner.
Throughout the off-season program, each team's members will be graded and earn points - not on how much weight they lift, but on five criteria: performance, coachability, teamwork, technique, and work ethic. Team and individual winners will be determined, and the top nine individual finishers earn the title of Winter Warriors. And the top overall individual earns the Iron Eagle trophy, a foot-tall bronze statue of a figure with a weight-lifter's body and an eagle head.
"They'll be scrutinized every day, and results will be posted so everyone can see them," Wintrich explained.
And after Saturday's dominating 59-7 season-ending victory, "everyone has a good taste in their mouth," Wintrich said. "They saw results."
Of last year's nine Winter Warriors, four were walk-ons, including Iron Eagle champion Nicolas Summerfield. Summerfield is now on scholarship.
Right now, a lot of the team is knee-deep in Wintrich's Aggressive Restoration Program. Basically, they're recovering from the just-completed season. Players like offensive lineman Aaron Fortenberry played a lot of downs this year so their tailored program is essentially rehabilitation.
The headline of the initial edition of Green Land, "Changing The NCAA Landscape, Part 1," suggests there will be a Part 2. There will. Part 2, a look at a wave of rule changes coming down from the NCAA and how those might affect North Texas, is coming in the next few weeks.
David Pyke is a 1982 graduate of North Texas, the creator of the website meangreenworld.com, a former journalist and now a member of the media-relations staff of the North Texas Athletic Department. He offers an inside view of happenings in and around Mean Green athletics.
Previous Editions of Green Land
November 23, 2011: Changing the NCAA Landscape, Part 1