STILLWATER — Rob Glass, Oklahoma State's assistant athletic director for speed, strength and conditioning, gave The Oklahoman's Gina Mizell total access to the Cowboys' offseason workout program last Tuesday.
5:45 a.m.: It's dark. It's early. But Glass is ready to go downstairs in the Boone Pickens Stadium weight room.
6 a.m.: Glass and his eight-man team — headlined by top assistants Joel Tudman and Gary Calcagno — go over a detailed map laying out where all the morning's conditioning drills will be set up on the field.
Once Glass is has given each coach instructions, the graduate assistants start darting through the weight room, grabbing cones and balls to set up outside. Tudman and Calcagno then begin meticulously sorting each player's individual file into position groups.
Part 1: On-field conditioning
6:28 a.m.: About 90 players wearing identical black shirts and orange shorts have gathered in the west end zone. Among them are quarterback Wes Lunt, running back Jeremy Smith, receiver Tracy Moore and cornerbacks Justin Gilbert and Brodrick Brown. Glass brings them into a huddle, which is broken with players chanting “BCS.”
6:30 a.m.: Following a series of warm-ups and stretches, the players break into groups at the five stations.
I first go to the Run Rocket, a resistance machine that connects a retractable cable to the player's back. It builds power and acceleration as players try to explode off the line and sprint 20 yards.
At midfield, Tudman is running an agility drill that purposely puts the players in an awkward position — such as on their stomach or sitting down facing the opposite direction — to teach their body how to recover quickly. Glass says this helps in game situations, where players often get knocked off-balance.
7:01 a.m.: At another station, where players squat and toss a weighted ball underhand to a teammate standing about 10 yards away, Calcagno screams, “I don't hear enough grunting!” The next toss yields a loud one. “It's like Serena Williams,” center Evan Epstein says with a laugh.
And at the agility station next in the end zone next to Run Rocket, speedy wide receiver Isaiah Anderson is blazing through the drill. After only the wall stops his forward momentum on a sprint, he jokes to right tackle Parker Graham, “You had me on the first two steps.”
7:24 a.m.: The conditioning portion wraps with three sets of “three trippers,” or a sprint from one sideline to the other three times. Skill players are expected to finish in 28 seconds or less.
Glass then gathers the group at midfield and reminds them to eat properly and rest. “The hardest camp you've ever been through,” is coming in two weeks, he says.
Part 2: Weight training
7:40 a.m.: The veteran skill players split up into groups for the bench press and squat. Also on the docket today are the glute/hamstring raise, shoulder press, triceps extension and shoulder “pre-hab” to prevent injury.
The Drake song “Yolo” blares over the speakers. On a projector on a far wall, black-and-white video footage of guys squatting and benching obscene amounts of weight provides motivation for the players. Also on the walls are inspirational messages like “victory is reserved for those who are willing to pay the price.”
On the bench press, Lunt is spotting Clint Chelf, one of the quarterbacks he beat out for the starting job.
Calcagno jokingly tells Brown he's “getting old” during a bench press set, but then changes his tune when the corner benches 305 pounds. “Easy … could have done 315,” Calcagno says.
9 a.m.: All players have trickled out of the weight room. This complete session will repeat at 1:30 p.m.
3:45 p.m.: The late afternoon weight room group is made up of offensive and defensive linemen and all freshmen who were not here for spring football. The size difference is somewhat comical.
During a clear competition between the O-Line and D-Line on squat, the D-Line is definitely more vocal. Anthony Rogers lets out a “woo!” after a big set, and Tudman responds with, “All day! That's child's play!” When end Nigel Nicholas gets ready for two reps of 545 pounds, he draws a big crowd at his platform that erupts with cheers when he finishes.
Watching Calcagno interact with the freshmen is entertaining. He has to be part mentor, part baby sitter, part tough guy. He aggressively high-fived Ashton Lampkin after a successful set on the bench press and yelled “That's what it's supposed to look like!” But at the end of the workout, he stressed consistent effort to a different player. “You always want them to say, ‘Whoa,' rather than, ‘Giddy up.' We gotta tell you to ‘giddy up' too much,” he said.
In the final stretch of lifts, Epstein is showing off a blister on his right palm to Glass. “This ain't 24 Hour Fitness,” Glass replies.
Part 3: Metabolics
5:30 p.m.: Back on the field for this voluntary session. Sometimes it includes 7-on-7 play, but today, the Cowboys are split into position-specific drills.
I talk to Rob Glass for this story, only to be interrupted when Davidell Collins and Charlie Moore ask Glass if they can do their Friday workout on Wednesday instead, so they can go home for the weekend.
About 45 minutes later, Glass and I walk back through the OSU tunnel toward the weight room. He stops to hit the button to close the garage-style door over the tunnel. More than 12 hours after I had first arrived, the day is done.