Heading into the summer, strength and conditioning coach Toby Jacobi was given the task of preparing the Kent State football team for the 2007 season. After watching the team lose four of its final five games in 2006, the theme for the off-season was to finish.
Based on the numbers from strength testing this summer, the Golden Flashes are poised to improve on their 6-6 season last fall and finishing shouldn't be a problem.
"I think we are leaps and bounds ahead of where we were last summer," said Jacobi, who joined the Flashes late last summer. "In fact, last year our conditioning test was 10 300's. This year we did 14 300's and everybody passed. Everyone did a great job of finishing this summer."
The commitment made by the Golden Flashes—nearly 70 players participated in workouts every day—paid off as almost every player topped his personal best in at least one category in the weight room. In all, 223 personal records, 48 positional records and five all-time Kent State weight lifting records were broken this summer.
Offensive lineman Joe Marafine broke two all-time records. He benched 504 pounds one time and performed 41 repetitions of 225 pounds. To put Marafine's lifting numbers into perspective, Joe Thomas, the Cleveland Browns' first round draft pick, performed 28 reps at the NFL Combine.
Cornerback Jack Williams ran a 4.21-second time in the 40-yard dash, an all-time best mark at KSU and fellow DB Rico Murray smashed the shuttle run record with his 3.83-second time. Murray also ran a 6.47-second time in the L-Drill to break another all-time mark.
"Jack, Joe, Rico Murray, Greg Keys, Jameson Konz, Shawn Donaldson, Josh Perry, all these guys had a great summer," Jacobi said. "The thing about it is nobody had a bad summer. They all had good summers and some guys had great summers."
The Golden Flashes also improved their team speed this summer. This summer, 12 players ran below a 4.48-second time in the 40-yard dash, 13 players ran faster than 4.00 in the pro shuttle and 24 players ran below a 7.00-second time in the L-Drill.
The strength numbers are even more impressive. There are 29 players that squat 500 pounds or more, 17 players that bench press over 350 pounds and 33 players that total over 1,100 pounds in all three lifts—squat, bench and hang clean.
"We just had a great summer," Jacobi said. "Where our guys are as far as strength and conditioning, I can't be any happier. The guys have done a great job of going above and beyond what we did last year."
On Aug. 30, the Golden Flashes will get to see if their off-season work will make a difference on the field.