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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883


WSU’s redshirting players have a delicate balance

Today we have the second installment in our two-part series looking at Washington State's in-season strength and conditioning regimen. Yesterday, we looked at how the starters maintain their muscle throughout a season. Today we'll take a look at the redshirts.  

Let's be honest. Tavares Martin Jr. could stand to put on a few pounds. He's 6-foot-1, 165-pounds and he's going to be even lighter at the end of the season.

Martin is just going to have to eat heavy and lift heavier in the offseason, however. Because the speedy receiver is good enough to play right now, both on special teams and at Z receiver, that he doesn't have the luxury of participating in the incubation process as most of his classmates.

There are 32 true freshmen listed on WSU's official roster. Seven of them have already played but it's fair to assume, this being Week 9, that the rest are going to redshirt, preserving a year of eligibility while practicing and working out with the team.

The redshirt year allows players to get used to living away from home and juggling football obligations with a heavy class load. It also provides a buffer year before the teenagers that arrive on campus have to regularly go up against players who have been in college weightlifting programs for four or five years.

Today we take a look at how they do that.

As we detailed yesterday, the travel squad does not lift to put on strength during the season. That would take too much out of players who are expected to play on Saturday. Instead, they do maintenance lifts and try to slow the natural atrophy of the muscles as much as possible.

But the young guys, they can put on muscle. In addition to the Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday lifts the travel squad performs, they also have a hard lift on Friday. And while the Sunday workout is a recovery workout for the players who have something to recover from, the redshirts lift heavy.

"We'll add our prowler sled work, which isn't easy at all," strength coach Jason Loscalzo said. "We'll add power sled at the beginning and do an offseason-type lower body workout on Friday morning. And then on Sunday we'll bring them in and instead of doing that circuit type wok, we'll have them do an offseason-type upper body type work."

John Graves, who you may remember playing for the Seahawks from 2010-11, is Loscalzo's "muscle" in the weight room. He handles the dirty work of setting up equipment, he coaches during lifting sessions, and for the players who spend much of practice lifting weights or working on plyometric exercises, they do so under Graves' direction.

He's also the man who handles midseason walk-on tryouts and helps freshmen who enroll early for spring practice get acclimated. Loscalzo says "all my guys coach hard," but Graves is among the most energetic.

However, the redshirts can't become full-time body builders. The non-travel players compose the scout team, and the defensive line isn't going to get a very good representation of what to expect from Stanford going up against a bunch of exhausted freshmen.

"I also have to make sure they're ready to have a great practice on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, because we need a great look out of those guys," Loscalzo said. "They need to give us a great scout team look so we need to make sure we're not overdoing it to the point where they can practice."

There's another thing redshirting freshmen have to deal with, something I'm sure many SportsLink readers can relate to. Recall your first time away from home. You were choosing and preparing your meals for the first time. Now, imagine you're a college athlete who gets all their vitamins and healthy meals from the team, but you're working out so much you're sure you can eat almost anything because you'll burn it off anyways.

That is, until Marco Candido gets ahold of you. Another member of Loscalzo's staff, Candido does the day-to-day nutritional work for the team. WSU nutritionist Lindsey Brown also helps the athletes, but she's in charge of vitamin intake for every athlete at WSU, and she can only be in so many places at one.

"Marco's the every day guy who makes sure guys are drinking what they're supposed to drinking, eating the calories they're supposed to take in," Loscalzo said. "He's monitoring all their stuff on a daily basis. We're pretty complex when it comes to our nutrition stuff so when these guys come in they can get it done."

Jacob Thorpe
Jacob Thorpe joined The Spokesman-Review in 2013. He currently is a reporter for the Sports Desk covering Washington State University athletics.

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