Boise State’s strength coaches and players Donte Deayon and Shane Williams-Rhodes met with the media Friday to talk about the Broncos’ summer program. Videos of head strength coach Jeff Pitman and the two players are below. Some notes:
– The Broncos are working out five days a week, including mandatory yoga. They started yoga last summer on a voluntary basis but it became mandatory this spring.
– Tailback Devan Demas ran a team-best 4.38 seconds in the 40-yard dash. Deayon, a cornerback, was second at 4.40.
– Williams-Rhodes (5-foot-6, 168 pounds) has squatted 500 pounds and benched 310 pounds. Pitman nominated him for college football writer Bruce Feldman’s All-Freak team. That one hasn’t been released, but Williams-Rhodes made a similar list at NFL.com. Williams-Rhodes tried to explain his uncanny squat numbers. “Most of the time, people here, they say it’s because I don’t have to go down far,” he said. “I guess you can just go with that. That’s always been one of my strong points, my legs, because of the way I’m built, the short stature and big legs. I think running track since I was 5 kind of helped me with that.” He said he worked hard on his bench this year and has improved by about 50 pounds. Pitman hasn’t seen many guys Williams-Rhodes’ size with this kind of strength. “That’s pretty rare for a guy that size to be able to do that – and to want to do that is probably the bigger thing,” he said.
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– As often is the case, the players say this has been their most challenging summer. “With it being the hardest summer, you’ve seen a lot more guys come together and us help each other,” Williams-Rhodes said. “I feel like we keep picking each other up and I think it’s making us more of a tight-knit group. Every year we do what we did last year and we’re doing more of it.”
– Sophomore quarterback Ryan Finley, the leading contender for the starting job, has been leading the player-run practices on offense.
– The players are trying to downplay the opening matchup with Washington and former coach Chris Petersen. “For me personally, just trying to not make it as personal,” Williams-Rhodes said. “... Every time I see a fan, they ask me about the Washington game. I figured I’d start giving them the same answer. ‘Are we gonna beat Coach Pete?’ ‘We’re going to try our best.’ ”
– Williams-Rhodes cited oft-injured receiver D.J. Dean as a player who has impressed him. He also likes what he has seen from receiver Taylor Pope.
– Deayon is trying to distance himself from last season’s success: “Leave last season last season and focus on what we have to come and what’s in front of us right now, working out in the summer and just trying to get better at what we do right now.”
– Deayon on the next step for the defense: “To not get complacent. We’re all hungry. Know that no spot is guaranteed on that defense. There are a lot of guys that can play, so we’re all just hungry and competing each day, battling. I’m ready to get into fall camp. A lot of people when you see them are talking about ‘last year, this and that.’ We kind of want to put that behind us. I’m ready to get this new year started.”
– Pitman on the newcomers joining the program this week: “They’ll be good. They're going to be a very good class of athletes. They've got stars in their eyes right now. It’s rough. It’s hard. I bring them in early. They're learning how to have to get up early. That’s part of what we do in Boise.”
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Brandon Pringle is in his second year as an assistant strength and conditioning coach for the Broncos, following Pitman and football coach Bryan Harsin from Arkansas State.
– On the summer so far: “It’s been great. The guys are really coming in and working hard off the Fiesta Bowl win. They want to take another step forward, so they came in here working hard.”
– On his relationship with players, who often mentioned him last year: “I guess I’m a younger guy so they can kind of connect with me. Coach Pit, he’s the head guy, they might feel more comfortable coming to me. I kind of do the same that Pit does – it’s his program. I just implement little things like speed – I’m kind of the speed guy – and prehab stuff, a little bit of body weight stuff to get them more flexible or more mobile to get on the football field and be more agile and move around.”
– On team speed: “Everybody got faster. There were a couple guys that went from like a 4.6 to a 4.5, 4.5 to a 4.4. ... We started doing more starts for their 40s, more top-end speed, so they’ve got better mechanics. From there, they got faster.”
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Tyson Gale is the newest addition to the Broncos’ three-man strength and conditioning staff.
He worked at Middle Tennessee last season and was a graduate assistant at Marshall for two years before that. He played linebacker at Marshall.
“I’m from Oklahoma originally – 2007 (the Broncos) broke my heart,” Gale said. “I had to kind of deal with that. When I was at Marshall playing, we had some common opponents with Boise. I was able to watch them and I really liked the way they played. I liked the way the program was set up.”
– On what he likes here: “The program here is based on working hard and doing all those kind of blue-collar things. I’ve been to some places where we did some fancier things here and there. It’s nice to kind of just get back to being tough.”
– Gale works with the linebackers, tight ends and tailbacks.
– On how he got into this profession: “I remember I was in high school. I went to a football camp and there was a guy that was always yelling when we were stretching and I was like, ‘What’s his job?’ And they said, ‘Strength coach.’ And I was like, ‘That’s kind of cool.’ So I went to school for it. When I was being recruited, meeting with the strength staff was always a highlight of the trip. It’s just a cool job to have.”