As the thermometer creeps up towards 70 degrees today and the official start of spring is right around the corner, it’s a good time to take a look at how the Wisconsin football team is preparing for spring practice.
Practice starts one week from today, March 24. However, the Badgers have been taking part in their offseason conditioning program since late January. The program includes lifting and conditioning groups (mainly separated by positions) and full team workouts. The team workouts were conducted twice a week, Wednesday and Saturday mornings at 6 a.m.
On March 7, I attended one of these workouts, along with the UWBadgers.com camera crew, to try and give fans an idea of what the Badgers have been doing since the 2008 season ended. We got some great video which includes a lot of footwork drills, some intense instruction from Ben Herbert and the strength and conditioning staff and an unusual relay race at the end of the session.
This particular workout session began at 10 a.m., rather than the normal 6 a.m. because there was a large number of recruits in town. After 15 minutes of stretching, the players broke up into position groups and started making the rounds at the different stations. Each one was a little different but the all had some common traits. “Quick feet,” and “eyes up,” were two phrases heard throughout the workout.
The entire hour plus was high energy. About every eight minutes or so, a horn sounded and the groups sprinted over to different stations. Before starting a drill, the group would come together and say, “1-2-3 … D-line!” or whatever the position was.
Once the stations were done with, there was a little time for a water break and then a relay race with teams of seven or eight set up. The race consisted of two players backpedaling while dragging a sled with two 45-pound plates on it, then taking the plates off and two different players running the width of the field while holding them, then two players doing a half-field suicide while backpedaling then two players doing the half-field suicide in full sprint. The explanation isn’t great so you should really watch the video.
There were quarterfinal, semifinal and final heats. I couldn’t catch everyone that was in the final (there was a lot going on and lots of players milling around) but one team had (among others) Travis Frederick, J.J. Watt, Jeff Stehle, Dex Jones and Chris Maragos while the other had Aubrey Pleasant, Culmer St. Jean, Will Hartmann, Jon Budmayr and Richard Kirtley.