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August 29, 2013

Jayhawks bulked up, slimmed down for 2013 season

LAWRENCE, Kan. — It doesn't matter what the weather is like in Kansas. Doesn't matter the time of day, either.

Scott Holsopple will still be wearing sweats on the Jayhawks' practice field.

During their three-week fall camp this month, the strength and conditioning guru for coach Charlie Weis was drenched in sweat under the same sweatsuit, and the reason for the suffering - he calls it comfortable - is quite simple: "It lets me know I'm working.''

Just the kind of guy you'd want working your football team into shape.

Holsopple said he doesn't remember what made him start wearing sweats every day, but he's done it for 13 years while working at Kansas, Florida, Kentucky and Marquette. It's become routine for him, and routine plays a big role in his philosophy when it comes to strength work.

"This summer it was 107 degrees and he still had on the same outfit,'' freshman quarterback Montell Cozart said. "We come outside saying it's hot. He says, `What are you talking about? It's freezing out here.'''

Holsopple could emerge as one of the biggest reasons the Jayhawks win a Big 12 game for the first time in years this season, or improve on the lone victory that they managed in Weis' first year in charge of the program.

When quarterback Jake Heaps steps under center for the season opener Sept. 7 against South Dakota, he'll do so with 12 percent less body fat and 10 more pounds of muscle. Backup quarterback Jordan Darling will be standing on the sideline after dropping 6 percent body fat in two months.

Weis is proud of the progress, too, as evidenced by Holsopple's before-and-after pictures.

"He comes in and shows you two pictures, and it's really disgusting,'' Weis said. "I'd say if he showed me 80 pictures, 75 of them are just like you can't even believe it's the same kid.''

Just about every Kansas player credits Holsopple for helping them develop their bodies during the offseason, especially the freshmen who are on campus for the first time.

Cozart said he added 14 pounds of muscle this summer. Others experienced similar gains. But the biggest success story may have been senior offensive lineman Aslam Sterling, who slimmed down from 368 - which Weis admits was a generous listing - to 315 pounds for camp.

"I don't think anybody thinks they're that big until they see the before and after picture,'' Sterling said. "I look at the pictures now and I feel great about myself.''

Holsopple gets results in the way one would expect: hard drills that players hate. But the workouts aren't just about building strength. Holsopple wants them to develop mental toughness as well as learn how to hold each other accountable.

"You can be in great shape and strong, and if you're not together and united and fighting for the same cause, it's not going to matter,'' he said. "You're going to have a bunch of guys do well individually but no collectively.''

Darling said the toughest part of the summer was the early morning workouts.

Holsopple would send players on six 300-yard dashes, then have them push a blocking sled weighed down by 45 pounds on each side back and forth across the field four times. They'd finish by running the Campanile Hill that sits just south of Memorial Stadium a staggering 13 times.

"We started at 5, lifted until 6:30, 6:40, then we're out there running, doing pushups, situps, up-downs, anything he could think of or wanted us to do until that sun rose up,'' Darling said. "If the sun didn't come up until 2 in the afternoon for some reason he would have kept us out there.''

Eventually, getting up so early wasn't so bad. Neither were the workouts. Progress was being made, Darling said, and that's exactly why Holsopple was brought on board last year.

"I think anybody can go through anything one time,'' Holsopple said. "Things get difficult when you wake up the next morning, it's Groundhog Day, and you've got to go through the whole thing all over again. What makes training camp so tough, why the average person wouldn't be able to make it through, it's not the first day, it's not the second day, it's here we go again.''

 

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