How Zach Wilson, Matt Bushman and a bevy of other local collegians kept fit during pandemic
There were plenty of Cougars, Utes, Wildcats and NFL athletes huddling in Pleasant Grove’s STROformance this spring to get a jump on team workouts when time came
PROVO — Just how prepared are local college athletes to enter fall camp under the umbrella of COVID-19 protocols?
It will be interesting to see.
Newton’s first law of physics states that a body remains at rest or in uniform motion in a straight line unless acted upon by a force. The second law states a body’s rate of change of momentum is proportional to the force causing it.
Lounging around, eating chips and dip during the pandemic will not translate into successful football. Yet, it’s natural to relax during these times when so much is uncertain.
Training to play football, the science of conditioning, building strength, speed and flexibility is something that requires a ton of work, a force acted upon a body. Laying off for even a week or few days in a row can undo part of the process.
A formal return to campus just began for BYU, and the Utes are due back soon. But actual preparation has been a personal responsibility. Some have had weights, stretch bands, hills to run, mountains to climb, while others have turned to old-fashioned pushups, situps and yoga. It’s been a salad bar of physical activity as their respective coaches hold Zoom meetings, send out workout plans and implore hard work from afar.
Those who have been dedicated are obvious. What about others who have not been quite so motivated the past two months? Well, they also stand out, according to Dave Stroshine of STROperformance in Pleasant Grove, who has taken in busloads of collegiate and NFL athletes during the pandemic for private training.
Two well-known football players, BYU senior tight end Matt Bushman and junior quarterback Zach Wilson, have been among the motivated.
“Matt and teammate Brady Christensen haven’t missed a day,” said Stroshine.
STROformance has had Utes, Cougars, players from Southern Utah, Weber State, Snow College and even pro athletes seek them out as a place to train during the pandemic this spring.
“Zach is up to 210 pounds and is in the best shape of his life,” said Stroshine. “He has been strengthening his shoulder after having surgery. He has come in here, but has also spent time with John Beck in California.”
Wilson came in the other day and shared videos of his throwing with Beck, but he also asked Stroshine to notice his hops. “He’s never been able to jump and run like he’s doing right now. He’s doing windmill dunks,” said Stroshine. “He said in high school he was barely able to get the ball over the rim for a dunk and now he’s windmilling them.
“His arm has never felt better and stronger and he’s been able to develop his athleticism. He’s set a goal to be more able to compete at that position at a level where the game has evolved. I mean the game now is utilizing the talents of Kyler Murray and Lamar Jackson in different ways.
“He wants to be one of those kinds of competitors and it’s been fun to watch him work toward getting there.”
Stroshine knows BYU senior tight end Bushman returned for his final year to take the next step in his preparation.
“He’s developed an NFL body, a triangle look and he has put muscle on his shoulders,” Stroshine said. “He’s moving really well and has a bounce and with all these guys. It’s about how they feel, that nothing hurts, that their knees and shoulders are where they need to be.”
Utes who have worked out with Stroshine include Cole Fotheringham, Sione Tuha, Ben Myles-Mills, Hayden Furey and Patton Germann.
Cougars include Bushman, Wilson, Brady Christensen, James Empey, Isaac Rex, Harris LaChance, Masen Wake, Josh Wilson, Earl Tuioti-Mariner, Pepe Tanuvasa, Jackson McChesney, Hayden Livingston, Isaiah Kaufusi, Drew Jensen, Uriah Leiataua, Nate Heaps, and Kieffer Longson.
Weber State players include Adam Rodriguez, Tyler MacPherson and Dakota Hansen.
NFL players seen at the facility include Dax Raymond, Pharaoh Brown, Kyler Fackrell, Chase Hansen, Marcus Kemp and Jonah Williams, as well as Micah Hannemann from the XFL.
A real key for football players during the pandemic is to maintain and get gains. If they don’t, they can become victims of soft tissue injuries, said the trainer.
The local college coaches have told Stroshine they are very supportive of players seeking out his facilities and expertise during the pandemic. There are plenty who have scrounged to find barbells and weight machines when public gyms and city recreation centers were closed.
In weeks, all our colleges will find out very fast who is ready and who took too much time off. The bodies who were in a state of rest will be evident.
And we won’t need Newton to tell us.