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Courtesy: Washington State Athletics
Cougars Prepare For Spring Football in the Weight Room
Courtesy: Washington State Athletics
Release: 03/21/2000
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March 21, 2000

The Washington State football team completed its winter conditioning with its testing in the weight room on March 10, less than two weeks before the start of spring practices.

Nearly all of the players had their height, weight and body percent measured, as well as being tested in vertical jump, 40-yard time, bench press, squat and power clean. Several Cougars set individual records during the testing period, while a couple of players set school records.

"We just wanted to instill in them a lot of mental, physical toughness," said strength and conditioning coach Dave Lang. "That's really what it came down to. We just wanted them to understand what it's going to take for us to win."

Several players saw significant gains in weight, especially last year's freshman class. Linebacker Melvin Simmons has gained 20 pounds since the beginning of the 1999 season and is now listed at 212 pounds. Fellow sophomores Matt Kegel and Collin Henderson have also put on some muscle. Kegel gained 19 pounds to put him at 226 pounds and Henderson gained 10 pounds for a 190 pound total. Linebacker Raonall Smith has jumped from 238 pounds to 254 pounds. Defensive lineman Tomasi Kongaika and Austin Matson each pushed the scales at least 16 pounds. Kongaika stands 306 pounds after gaining 18 and Matson now weighs 262 pounds after putting on 16. Senior wide receiver Marcus Williams jumped from 215 pounds to 231 during the fall. Redshirt freshman Billy Knotts has made the most significant jump. Since coming to WSU in the fall of 1999 weighing 240 pounds, Knotts has gained 41 pounds.

"The biggest thing with that is supplementation," Lang said. "Making sure we are staying on top of them and they are taking their supplements, taking them the way they are supposed to. Sometimes the strength coaches take a lot of credit for it, but it really comes down to that you have young kids, whose bodies hit a cycle between 18-22 years old. (They need to) train right and eat right."

Moving on to the weight room testing, five people topped the 35-inch mark in the vertical jump. Smith led the group of high fliers, jumping 39˝ inches. On his heels was wide receiver Milton Wynn with a height of 38˝ inches. Defensive backs Chris Martin and Lamont Thompson jumped 35˝ and 35 inches respectively. Defensive lineman/linebacker Tupo Tuupo also jumped 35 inches.

In the highly touted 40-yard dash, eight players ran sub 4.5 times. For most of the day, Thompson and Wynn were clinging to a tie with a time of 4.37 seconds. In the second to last group to run, sophomore Curtis Nettles crossed the line with a 4.30. Smith (4.41), Farwan Zubedi (4.44), Billy Newman (4.47), Marcus Trufant (4.49) and Williams (4.49) closed out the group of speed burners.

For the lineman, the bench press is the equivalent of the little guys' 40-yard dash. Matson led the team with a bench of 450 pounds. Eight other players, including four more defensive lineman, maxed out at more than 350 pounds. Kongaika was the only other player to reach the 400-pound plateau, with a weight of 425 pounds. Ing Aleaga (370), Melvin Camarena (365) and Eric Boose (350) round out the list of the D-line. Smith (390) and JC transfer DeShon Weaver (380) were the two linebackers on the list. Offensive lineman Eric Larson (370) and running back Jeremy Thielbahr (370) round out the group.

Eighteen players squatted over 500 pounds with Kongaika claming the top spot with a 615-pound lift. Again the defensive line showed its strength claming six of the 18 best lifts. Boose (540), Camarena (535), Aleaga (520), Matson (500) and Fred Shavies (500) showed why the defensive line is ready to go this spring. Newman was the lone defensive back on the list with a lift of 505 pounds. Curtis Holden led the four linebackers on the list with a lift of 545 pounds. Holden was joined by Smith (530), Serign Marong (530) and James Price (505). The offensive line had three players squat over 500 pounds. Larson led the way with a squat of 590 pounds and freshman Josh Parrish and sophomore Derrick Roche had lifts of 545 and 500 pounds respectively. Running backs Adam Hawkins and Thielbarh enjoyed lifts of 530 and 520. Russell Mizin was the lone tight end with a 565-pound lift.

Again the defensive line led the way with three of the 10 power cleans over 300 pounds, but the linebackers were right behind with two of their own. Five players - DD Acholonu, Joe Williams, Holden, Thielbahr and Roche - led the way with a clean of 320 pounds. Defensive end Colin White, wide receiver Cole Sheridan, Matson, Newman and Marong each had successful lifts of 300 pounds.

Kongaika won the lifting Triple Crown with a total weight of 1,295 pounds in the three lifts. Matson (1,250), Larson (1,215) and Thielbahr (1,210) are the others to top the 1,200-pound mark.

"I think they did a tremendous job," Lang said. "I think we had, between running and lifting, probably about 95-99 percent compliance as far as them not missing workouts. We had a lot of great senior leadership. We had a lot of freshman step up and do things."

How will this translate to what the players do on the field?

"The way I look at that, my take on that is they want to get stronger and bigger, but I'm not training those guys to be weightlifters," Lang said. "I want to make them have as much body armor as they can, to be able to be out on the field ready to play. I take it from a standpoint that I try to make them as physically strong as I can to put them on the field. Those guys have got to be physically ready to jump in there (in spring ball) and not wind up hurting their back or whatever it might be at practice."

,, WSU has nine players on the spring roster listed at 6-foot-6 or taller. The tallest Cougar is freshman offensive lineman Sam Lightbody, who stands 6-9. Seven of the nine players taller than 6-6 are offensive lineman.

,, Reed Raymond is the heaviest player at 310 pounds. Four players tipped the scales at over 300 pounds.

,, Fourteen different players had a body fat percentage of 5 percent or less. Seven of them were wide receivers. The lowest percentage came from kicker Anousith Wilaikul at 3.2 percent. Fellow kicker Drew Dunning was second at 3.5 and the lower non-kicker was Wynn at 3.6 percent.

,, Kjell Nesen broke the quarterback 40-yard dash record with a time of 4.62. Kegel was right on his tail with a time of 4.63 seconds. Jason Gesser did not participate in the testing, since he was completing rehab on the injured knee he suffered during the Hawaii game. He will participate in spring drills.

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