USC feeling the benefits of new off-season regimens
Adam Grosbard (OC Register) — LOS ANGELES — As USC players took turns sitting around fold-out tables at media day last week, each one seemed to have their own off-season accomplishments to brag about.
“I lost six pounds of fat, gained five pounds of muscle,” center Brett Neilon reported.
“I was at like 10 [percent body fat] last year,” rush end Korey Foreman said. “Now I’m going into five.”
The man at the center of these developments and the off-season regimen for USC is strength and conditioning coach Bennie Wylie.
Wylie was always a key part of head coach Lincoln Riley’s vision for USC. After spending four seasons together at Oklahoma, Wylie literally joined Riley on the private plane from Norman to Los Angeles without a contract, ready to leave his mark on the Trojans’ new era.
After spending January and February readying the roster for spring camp, Wylie prepared off-season regimens for the roster. In addition to the traditional weight and conditioning work, Wylie had the Trojans doing sprinting and cutting and hand-to-hand combat that players likened to wrestling.
Quickly, Wylie and his team of staffers have earned the trust of the USC locker room.
“The strength staff’s elite and they’re professional,” Neilon said. “A lot of us got bigger, stronger and faster. The numbers and the outcomes are there. … [Wylie] trains us like professional athletes and he takes care of guys, too.”
In addition to the actual workouts, Wylie’s team has developed diets to help players hit their weight and body fat goals.
“It was just being able to adapt to what’s best for us,” said Foreman, who cut out fried foods at Wylie’s behest, “because at the end of the day they have our best interests.”
And Wylie gives time to provide special attention to injured players and make sure they don’t fall behind even as they sit out the full team’s workouts.
Soon after a diagnosis, Wylie has turned up with an updated regimen specific to a player and his new limitations.
“Usually when a guy gets hurt, they don’t work out. You’re gonna work out with Coach Wylie,” tight end Malcolm Epps explained. “There’s some part of your body that works, and he’s gonna work it out.”
But after the off-season work, there have been fewer injuries for USC to report than in past training camps. Sure there are players on the sidelines; tight end Jude Wolfe was in a walking boot during Monday’s practice, while defensive backs Jaylin Smith and Latrell McCutchin were in street clothes with what Riley described as “bumps and bruises”.
But for the most part, USC has had a clean bill of health, and a new look, in Riley’s opinion.
“We’ve taken several steps since spring,” Riley said after the first day of camp. “I think the biggest thing I notice right now is a lot of our bodies are starting to change in a way they need to change. You see a little more pop, a little more speed, a little more physicality.”