Football strength coach Corey Edmond, officially UA's director of performance enhancement, is as busy these days as he is during the regular season. More so, in fact. Why? The full football roster is on campus for voluntary summer workouts.
"Yes, the workouts are voluntary," Edmond said. "But to the players, it's not an option. You can't go into a season physically unprepared if you want to be a championship program. The players are really doing a good job on their own of organizing the work they do without coaches present." Too, Edmond and his staff get players' undivided attention in several weight workouts each week.
"To them, missing (a workout) doesn't make sense. Obviously, with summer school and other normal issues for college students, we have some guys who come to me to set up a Saturday session as a makeup. Overall, these guys just don't feel right if they're not working out," he said.
Fall camp, which opens Aug. 5 with the first day of practice, is a month away. And it's a lot easier when you're in shape, Edmond says. So, "We have everyone here. All the veterans. All the incoming freshmen. Everyone. They want to get a leg up. The older guys are teaching the younger guys as much as possible."
Today, Tuesday, is "tempo day," Edmond says, with some lighter running after Monday's "sprint day." He works with five different groups of players at five different times periodically each week. Each day has a slightly different focus or theme, and the underlying motif is to make Arizona football more competitive than ever. It appears to be so.
Players work in the Estes Family Strength and Conditioning Center under strength coaches' supervision, and on the lawn to the north of McKale or the newly installed artificial turf in the Jimenez Practice Facility for skill or line drills.
When asked who catches his eye, Edmond said, "There's not a player who doesn't. The main key is that everyone is battling and fighting. No one is letting the other guy outwork him. There are some positions that might be considered unsettled, like the defensive line. We have guys listed as backups who are fighting to start. The guys listed as starters notice this. Everyone wants playing time and the way to get it is to be ready," he said.
Some guys getting ready won't even be in the picture in fall, like Chicago Bears' five-time All-Pro linebacker Lance Briggs, who began some summer work with Edmond today, receiver Syndric Steptoe of the Browns, or former player Marquis Hundley, working to get a shot at the pros.
Lance Briggs' Take on UA Workouts
Another role Edmond says will be a battle is UA's running back position. Senior Nic Grigsby has a 1,000-yard season to his credit (2008), but with junior Keola Antolin and sophomore Greg Nwoko working to stay in the picture, it's a fierce bit of contention. Plus, sophomore H-back Taimi Tutogi may be in the RB picture at times. Plus, "redshirt freshman Daniel Jenkins is fighting to get on the bus, and he's doing a good job of it," says Edmond.
"Those guys aren't ignorant. They see the other guys working hard, and the objective is to earn playing time."
Edmond said veteran players know what a season does to you, "what it takes to prepare your body for 13 games. Some of the new guys only have their high school experience to draw on, and the learning curve for them, at this point in Coach (Mike) Stoops' program, really can take a year. The speed of the game is way different," he notes.
UA's depth, after six years of Stoops' recruiting and six years of Edmond's supervision, is at a high. "Talk like, `We lost this guy, how are we going to replace him?' is a thing of the past. There are so many good players here now," he said.