MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Every school has "max-out day," when guys try to better their best in a bunch of weight-lifting exercises — bench press, squat, hang clean. It's no different at Kansas State.
But when linebacker Jonathan Truman wraps his fingers around the bar, and there is so much iron on the ends that it almost seems to bend, everybody else in the room stops what they're doing.
They all want to see him post some unconscionable number.
"The dude is a machine. He really is," said B.J. Finney, the Wildcats' starting center. "It doesn't matter what lift, he does the technique perfectly. Bar goes up, bar goes down. He hits those numbers. He's a freak, and it shows up on the football field."
In fact, his brute strength is one of the biggest reasons why Truman has gone from a walk-on safety known more for his wrestling prowess to a two-year starter at linebacker for No. 20 Kansas State, which opens its season a week from Saturday against Stephen F. Austin.
Truman redshirted before spending his first two seasons mainly on special teams, but he kept toiling away in that weight room, through the parched summer months that turn the Flint Hills brown and right through the football season, when players are always crunched for time.
The bar went up. The bar went down.
Perfect form every time.
When his junior season rolled around, Truman had muscled his way into the starting lineup. He had 10 tackles in his first game and never slowed down, finishing second on the team and ninth in the Big 12 with 89 tackles. He also forced a pair of fumbles and helped out in pass coverage.
It was hardly a surprise when he was voted a team captain as a senior.
"Mentally and physically, there's no doubt. He's a freak," defensive end Ryan Mueller said. "And that's a good thing, to be known as a freak in football. And in the weight room, yeah, he's pretty crazy. I have a tremendous amount of respect for him."
Just how strong is the 5-foot-11, 215-pound Truman?
— In the bench press, the classical move that works the chest and shoulders, Truman has been known to put up 430 pounds. That's about the weight of an upright piano.
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