Summer conditioning harder than ever for Mountaineers

By Cody Schuler

Summer conditioning harder than ever for Mountaineers

Every year as West Virginia enters summer workouts, there is a constant theme of players expressing the current summer’s workouts as the toughest they’ve ever gone through.

Though that often seems like a generic answer, this summer you have to believe that the guys grinding through rigorous daily workouts are telling the truth.

Whether it’s just a natural progression or in anticipation of West Virginia’s move to the Big 12 Conference, one thing is for sure: the offseason conditioning program has kicked itself up a notch.

Redshirt junior defensive end Will Clarke is no stranger to the Mountaineers’ offseason training program, but he vows that this year truly is the toughest ever.

“Each year we’ve turned it up more,” the Pittsburgh native said.

“I would say, if anything, everyone has so much ambition to do better. It’s not just an older guy type of thing or younger guys that just come in wanting to work. I feel like everyone as a collective whole (is) trying to grow as a team.”

It is the first week of conditiong and a lot of players are getting readjusted to the vigorous training regimen that they’ve bypassed during their brief summer break – something that doesn’t surprise Clarke.

“It’s always the first-week thing; you see guys sitting in the locker room in the chairs for a long period of time trying to gather themselves, but that’s just showing the good preparation from the strength staff.”

Clarke knows that while times may be tough in the present, each workout is an opportunity to get better prepared for the close games that are sure to come during the fall.

“It’s hard, but you have to look at it as a positive. It’s helping you get better,” he said.

“In situations, you’ll appreciate the times you were about to throw up or just gasping for air, but in a game situation you’ll have breath.”

Fellow defensive stalwart Jared Barber agrees that the strength staff has improved its training plan, and through increased demand and required effort from the players, it has already started to reap benefits.

The sophomore linebacker claims the results have been practically immediate.

“They do a great job,” he said. “I can already tell in three weeks my body is changing, and I’m getting a lot faster (and) stronger.”

“It’s definitely harder but it’s awfully good. We might complain about it, but it’s definitely going to get us ready for fall.”

True freshman defensive back Sean Walters, who enrolled during the spring, believes joining the team early has helped him progress through the learning curve quicker than he expected.

“It’s a big difference as far as the workouts, the competitiveness, everything – I just feel like I’m on the same page as the older guys in such a sense. I just have so much of an upside from just being here and getting work in,” he said.

While many players desperately need this time to get their bodies prepared for the season, there is arguably no player who can gain more than sophomore running back Dustin Garrison.

Garrison, who is expected to return in full form next month, claims he has already gained six or seven pounds from the program – upping his weight to 180 pounds.

Though he has made some physical improvements, it is his increased mental sharpness that he feels is his greatest new asset.

“I feel like I need to get my mind right,” he said. “I feel like I’ve been working really hard during the summer (and) spring and working out to the best of my ability, and I feel like I’ll be a lot better than I was last year.”

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