In yesterday's paper we had a story on Vince Mayle, who has dropped 20 pounds since arriving at Washington State and the lithe receiver has been showing off his increased speed all spring. For the story I spoke at length with strength and conditioning coach Jason Loscalzo, not just about Mayle but also River Cracraft, new recruits and more.
We've transcribed the highlights of that interview, after the jump.
Has this been a good offseason for the Cougars in the weight room?
I think we did a great job in the weight room. We’re a year older. We started out young ; we still are a young team but a year older and they are able to mature a lot. The first winter obviously we were just trying to figure it out, kids were trying to figure it out. The second winter we came in after that big Apple Cup win so we had a lot of juice.
How was this winter conditioning session different than your previous two?
Then this winter (we are) much more mature as a football team. They took it a lot more seriously than they have in the past. We’re still growing but, you can probably tell, a big improvement on our offensive and defensive line. We’ve gotten bigger. Our guys have gotten stronger. We still have a ways to go because we’re so young but it was a productive winter.
What about the work Vince Mayle has done since the season ended?
Vince actually did a tremendous job. He shed quite a bit of body fat but he’s still right around that 220 to 224 pounds range. Strong guy, he got a lot faster. A lot of stuff with him was he’d never really lifted weights before. So it was a lot of technical stuff with him so he had a lot of neuromuscular adaptation to what we were doing and he’s a quick learner. You show him how to do it he’s going to do it and repeat it. He’s got a desire to get better so motivation for him isn’t really an issue.
Is his newfound speed simply a byproduct of weight loss?
I think a lot of it’s just him learning how to run better, learning how to be more efficient. He did a great job of learning how to run routes this winter. That was his big thing. He learned how to run routes, he learned how to use his body. So he’s really refined his technique on change of direction, acceleration, and losing the weight did help. Getting stronger helped and dropping the body fat helped.He knows what he wants and he knows that for him to go where he wants to go, with his goals, he’s going to have to do extra work. The guys that want to do those kinds of things have to do extra work.
What about Cracraft? He seems to have put on some muscle.
These guys have never worked out like this before and he came in as a true freshman and played so he never got a chance to go through a redshirt or a non-travel season.
So this winter was his first chance to go through that. And he’s such a hard worker, just like Vince.
Mike Leach has said these past two recruiting classes were some of WSU's best. Do you see a different type of athlete coming into the weight room?
Yeah, you’re looking at bigger bodies to work with. You’re looking at guys that are more athletic. I’m not trying to say that the guys we had before weren’t athletic, it’s just that if you look at each class we’ve had come in we’ve gotten a little bit faster, we’ve gotten a little bit bigger with every single one of them.
It’s exciting to see what this class looks like. I don’t really follow recruiting, much. I’ll talk to the recruits when they come in but when it comes to who we sign and who we don’t sign I don’t care. These coaches are going to do a great job of signing the right people, coach Leach’s staff will bring in the right guys, I just worry about when they get here.
I mean you look at a guy like Cody O’Connell, that guy is a beast. He’s a continent himself. Guys like Cole Madison, I think a guy like (Nick) Begg has a good shot at developing and could be something pretty special. It’s hard to see the future with those kids, I can’t put a crystal ball on it but the athlete we get and the body we’re getting is obviously improving every year.
He’s still a baby when it comes to strength and conditioning. Like I said, he didn’t have a lot of experience with it coming in but he’s just one of those natural kids that’s big, he’s strong, he’s fast. His big thing is he’s got to really work on technique, become more of a technician. The strength is there but we can’t see the full potential of that strength because the technique isn’t all the way there yet.