Do I Train Football Players?

The statement of, “He doesn’t train football players, he only trains hockey players,” keeps coming up from the high school football players that I train. Well, I’ve trained several hundred Division 1 football players to answer that question directly. I guess my detractors are spreading this nonsense since I do not market to football players. I haven’t “facebooked” one football player attempting to recruit them to engage in our sports performance training at Umberger Performance. The fact that I’m not knowledgeable in training football players is laughable given my personal background as well as my experience in literally working with Division 1 football teams. We train athletes to improve their athletic ability which transfers to on field sports performance improvements.

I’ll lay out my experience to set the record straight instead of having what “they” say being gospel.  I guess I should include this information in my bio, but I excluded it in an attempt to not put the readers in a deeper sleep.

My Experience with football

I was a very good high school football player at Plum High School when we were in the “old” Quad East. The conference at that time included the powerhouses Gateway, Central Catholic, McKeesport(undefeated AAAA Champs in ’94), Woodland Hills, and Penn Hills who were undefeated state champions in AAAA in ’95 which happened to be my senior year of high school. After starting a few games my sophomore year, I earned the  starting job my junior year at QB, being honored as the 3rd team “Honorable Mention” All Conference. The first team selection was Mark Bulger of Central Catholic who played 10 years on the NFL and the second team selection was a QB who earned a scholarship to play at Syracuse. My senior year we finished 8-2, and made the playoffs for the first time in 13 years; I was selected as the first team all conference QB that year. I broke several single season and career passing records at Plum, many of which still stand.  I was also the Free Safety, playing well enough to earn All Conference. Due to rules, I was selected as a QB, only.  I was also selected as a member of the Fab 22. It was an awesome experience growing up and playing with those guys.  I wouldn’t  have had such a successful high school career if it wasn’t for the talent that I had played with. For the record, Plum had a winning season the year after I graduated and maybe 3 winning seasons since my teammates and I graduated in 1995.

I continued my athletic career at Robert Morris University were I was a member of 3 NEC Championship and 2 ECAC Bowl Championship Teams. I also ran track and was a member of 3 NEC Championship Track teams. I’d like to note that my coaches at RMU were Coach Joe Walton and Dan Radacovich whom both spent 35 years in the NFL. My football education was superior to many.  After college I was the QB coach and head JV coach at Plum for two years and prior to coaching DB’s at Keystone Oaks(when they were AAA) for one year.

In regards to my experience working with football players as a Strength and Conditioning Coach, I spent a year working with most of the sports at Pitt for a year,  specifically football, with Buddy Morris who is easily one of the top 5 football Strength and Conditioning Coaches in the US. From 2007-2009. I worked as Todd Hamer’s assistant at RMU specifically working with football for two years. Todd is very highly respected in our industry and does an awesome job with the athletes at RMU.

Sports Performance Training Taken to the Next Level…

Most recently I had the pleasure of befriending James Smith who I believe is the most brilliant Physical Preparation Coach in the US. After James and Buddy Morris received the “short end of the stick” at Pitt, James used my facility for his own training for several months. James is currently head of program design at Juggernaut Strength Systems in California. James has had tremendous success with football players at Pitt helping them go into the NFL by developing their athleticism which has directly transferred to their football skills.  They have had impressive careers not just impressive numbers at the combine. Here’s a recent summary of the players performances at the NFL combine in Indy this past year.

James on the field before a Pitt football game
sports performance training being taken to the football field in Pittsburgh

Not to discredit the talent that James is working with, but these guys aren’t the “freaks” that you see going in the first round from Alabama, LSU, Florida, and USC.  It’s not really hard to help add 5-8 inches on a Heiseman Trophy Winner’s vertical if he’s training to but successful at the next level 3 days a week.  (That commitment is laughable to most but true.)

Who have I trained in addition to the athletes that I worked with at Pitt and RMU? I helped Bill Caplan and Tom Sims from Mt. Lebanon make major division 1 teams.  Bill walked onto Ohio State when they were the #1 team in the country.  Prior to the “tattoo scandal” Bill dressed for the game when they won the Big 10 Title and receiving a Big 10 Championship Ring for his efforts.  Though those efforts have since been null and void by the NCAA due to infractions by some of the OSU players.  Tom Sims walked onto WVU’s football team and made it when they were rated in the Top 20.  He earned his way to a scholarship until a head coaching change rendered all “walk ons” not members of the off season team.  Most recently I helped Niko Mamula earn a scholarship to play football at Dartmouth College. Before his senior year Niko performed 12 pull ups at 6’5″ and 270 pounds.  I also helped Niko drop his 40 yard dash time from 5.9 seconds to under 4.9 seconds over the winter.
In regards to speed training, I was taken from a 4.6 to a 4.4 40 yard dash in high school.  That speed led to receiving a scholarship to run Division I track and play football at RMU.   In regards to my knowledge of strength, I’ve legitimately bench pressed 505 and squatted 645 at Umberger Performance and I’ve dead lifted 635 in power lifting meets at  a body weight of 198.  As far as bodybuilding is concerned, my old roommate and a few friends are professional natural bodybuilders and have been so for the last 8 years.  One of them has run a very successful an annual bodybuilding “show” in Columbus called the Buckeye Classic.

Sports Performance Training that = Results

As you can see, my experience in working with football players is hard to find privately(non university) in the Pittsburgh market. Why don’t I post before and after picks of my athletes?  #1 They aren’t body builders. They are athletes. Performance matters most not ascetics   #2 Adding 15-25 drug free pounds in 12 weeks isn’t a big deal to me;  I do it regularly with our athletes training looking to improve their sports performance..  What’s impressive is adding 5-10 inches to a vertical, adding several inches to an athletes 4x average vertical jump or several feet to their triple broad jump (which is the #1 indicator of athletic ability due to the elastic reactive ability of the muscle producing horizontal force((forward force)) which is the plane/direction in which football is played) is how an “athlete get paid”.  Having a big bench press and “big guns” is awesome when talking smack on Facebook, but that won’t help you develop as an athlete and dominate the competition on the field.