Thursday, January 31, 2008

Looking for a chance - Lakewood Ranch grad hopes to get noticed by the NFL


LAKEWOOD RANCH --The NFL scouts would arrive at the University of Houston and ask to meet with some of the seniors and the names of those players would be posted on a bulletin board in the locker room. Every day Rocky Schwartz would check to see if his name was on the list, and every day he would walk away disappointed.

"It got me down a little bit, but it's fuel to the fire," Schwartz said.
His spirits dipped only slightly, because Schwartz is used to being overlooked.

It was that way during his senior year at Lakewood Ranch High, when as a quarterback, he drew only a handful of offers, and those came from Division I-AA schools. Still, when healthy, Schwartz was a starter at safety for Houston since his freshman season.

Now, after fighting back from a torn left ACL that robbed him of his junior year to lead the Cougars in tackles last fall, Schwartz finds himself again on the outside.

More than 300 invitations to the NFL Scouting Combine were recently mailed to draft-eligible players, but not one contained the name "Rocky Schwartz."

"You can look at it two ways," Schwartz said. "You can say, 'Shoot, nobody's looking at me.' Or you can look at it in a positive way and say, 'People aren't looking at me. I'm going to make them look at me.' "
Which is why if you peeked into the Athletic Edge Sports Performance Conditioning in Lakewood Ranch on Monday afternoon, you would have found Schwartz flat on his back with his legs in the air, pumping as if he were riding a bicycle.
"I need 100 of those," trainer Mike Gough said.
It was the final exercise of an intense 75-minute workout - his second of the day - aimed at preparing Schwartz for the Houston Cougars' pro day in March, where Schwartz will be timed, measured and graded by NFL scouts.
"I just want an opportunity to play," Schwartz said. "I just want somebody to look at me."
Right now, the 23-year-old Schwartz is considered a potential free agent, someone who could sign a contract after the draft's conclusion with no guarantee of lasting through minicamp.
At 5-foot-10, 200 pounds, Schwartz is considered too small for the NFL. With a time of 4.63 in the 40-yard dash, he is thought to be too slow.
"They always say he doesn't have the size or the speed, but when push comes to shove, he is always one of the better players on the team," said Schwartz's wife, Arielle.
The two have a son, Roderick Evan Schwartz III, better known as Trey, who turns 1 on Wednesday. The Schwartzes are expecting a second child in August.
Playing football at the highest level has always been a driving force in Schwartz's life. Now, he has more incentive.
"That has been my dream since, I don't know, as long as I can remember," Schwartz said. "Before I wanted to do this for myself. Now I'm doing it for my wife, my family. It's more than just me."
Trey is big for his age.
"He runs around like a lineman," Schwartz said.
"They are like two peas in a pod," Arielle said. "He's a total daddy's boy. When they're together Rocky becomes a little kid again. He sees Trey, and he just melts."
So Trey's dad presses weights with his legs and arms and runs up hill on a treadmill and does hundreds of crunches on the FieldTurf that covers the floor at Athletic Edge, all with the intent on lowering that 40 time.
"It is something he has a passion for," Arielle said.
But a job in the NFL is not the end all for the Schwartzes. Rocky graduated in December with a degree in sports administration and is taking online course toward a graduate degree. Arielle has degrees from USF in communication and business.
Schwartz said he would be content teaching phys ed and coaching high school football.
Still, for someone considered a tad shy of the prototype for an NFL safety, Schwartz managed to lead the Cougars with 103 tackles - 34 more than cornerback Kenneth Fontenette, who was second. Schwartz proved he can return from a major injury and play at a high level.
Just getting to Houston proved Schwartz can eventually find an open door. The Cougars weren't interested in Schwartz until Steve Cucci, a Southeast High grad who played tight end for Houston at the time, dropped some tape of Schwartz off with the assistant coaches.
And even then it took a couple players to flunk off the team before a scholarship opened up for Schwartz.
"When I first got there, I didn't even know if I could play with those guys, but then I went out there and realized I could," Schwartz said.
Schwartz sees guys he's played with and against in college now playing on Sundays, so why can't he?
"He's working so hard for the chance," Arielle said. "But if he doesn't make it, if it doesn't work out, I wouldn't be upset about it, because he tried his best."

Players hone their skills at Athletic Edge for NFL Combine

LAKEWOOD RANCH --If you didn't see the words painted in the window, and from an angle you couldn't, then the pairs of football cleats drying in the sun on top of a few vehicles parked outside seemed a bit odd.

Two pairs on the roof of a white P.T. Cruiser.
One pair on the hood of black Grand Cherokee.
What the heck?

Ah, but then you see the words on the window: Athletic Edge Sports Performance Conditioning. You're in the right place.

Inside the doors you'll find 26,000 square feet of space dedicated to the conditioning of athletes, football players mostly.

"It doesn't look like much," Amobi Okoye said last year. "But then you don't need much. Just some weights and a place to run."

The weights and exercise machines line the walls. The grass field is found three miles down the road at Lakewood Ranch High and was a bit soggy Monday, hence the wet cleats.

Trainer Mike Gough's facility would never be confused with the larger training sites that are backed by high-powered agents. "I tell the guys if you're looking for something big don't come here," Gough said.
And still they come.

Okoye, a defensive tackle, trained with Gough last year and was taken by the Houston Texans with the 10th overall pick in the NFL Draft.

Joseph Addai, a running back, trained there in 2006 and was selected in the first round by the Indianapolis Colts.

This year's blue chip recruit among the eight college football players working out twice daily is Cody Wallace, a center from Texas A&M who will attend next month's NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. Wallace decided to train with Gough on the advice of Melvin Bullitt, a former Aggie, whose time at Athletic Edge helped earn him a free agent contract with the Colts.

"Melvin had a really good pro day after working out here," Wallace said. "We have everything you need here, and Mike pushes you really hard."

The Super Bowl will be played Sunday. It's the biggest game of the season, the one every college football player dreams of playing in once he completes the first steps, which is to get into an NFL camp and make the team.

Eli Manning will quarterback the New York Giants on Sunday, and some might remember Manning worked out at IMG in preparation for the combine after his senior year at Ole Miss.
Big facilities, small facilities, it doesn't really matter to NFL teams where you hone your skills as long as you have the skills they seek.

Okoye was right. Gough's gym looks like any other business in the industrial park off Lakewood Ranch Boulevard. Step inside, though, and it's nothing but sweating and grunting and dreams being forged by hard work.

On the walls up near the ceiling are frames containing a few NFL jerseys. There is one for Edwin Mulitalo, an offensive guard now with the Detroit Lions who lives nearby and comes by in the offseason, and ones for Okoye and Addai.

Addai left Athletic Edge for the draft and has since rushed for 1,000 yards in each of his two seasons in Indianapolis. He has also been to the Super Bowl, which he won last February with the Colts.

"Yeah, how about that," Wallace said looking up at Addai's jersey. "You know he's done some good things."

Thursday, January 24, 2008

How to Run a Fast Short Shuttle

The Combine Short Shuttle test is a test of agility, quickness and change of direction. Today I spent over an hour teaching my NFL Combine athletes the nuances of this test. There are so many details on how to run a fast time in this test we could be here for a long time. So much that this test technique took the longest of all tests on my Combine Freak DVD (

Now let me share with you one tip that will help you shred time off your shuttle.

The tip is the pivoting of the inside foot when performing the shuttle turns. The inside foot needs to pivot or rip around in the direction you need to go. This helps open the hips in the opposite direction, increases the torque of the turn and ultimately allows for a quick crisp turn. So be sure to practice this tip and your times lower quickly.

I taught this last weekend to some high school athletes preparing for the NIKE Combines and they each took 2 tenths off there times following this technique tip alone. This is just one of many test technique tips that I can give you to shave time off your shuttle. For all my other secrets get my Combine Freak DVD by clicking here .

Keep training hard!

Mike Gough

PS: My Speed Tools speed ladders are hot! Get yours today right here

Thursday, January 17, 2008

40 Yard Dash T-Drill

I just got off the field from my morning training sessions with my NFL Combine athletes. This week has been all about the basics, teaching them some of the basics for the tests including the 40 yard dash and getting them whipped into shape.

Today one of the tesching tools i use for the 40 yard dash start is the T Drill. I use field paint to mark a one yard straight line vertically out on front of the start line.

Then I get the athlete to measure their individual specific first stride length (as I teach you in my Combine Freak DVD and we mark that line as well. Where the two lines meet is where we get the first step to strike through.

That is an optimal first step. Straight ahead with the correct length for your specific limb length.
Trust me it works.

For more tips like this if you have not got your hands on my DVD get the best combine instructional video on the market today by clicking this link .

Train Hard,
Mike Gough
PS: If you have not started to prepare for your football combine, start it today with my Combine Freak DVD (

Sunday, January 06, 2008

How Good is Speed Ladder Training?

Just how good is the speed ladder for your training? Well it is a staple of my training program here with my athletes. Let me tell you why...

With the speed ladder ( you have to have body coordination, awareness, and the ability to get your feet moving quickly. In any sport the faster your feet are the better you will be able to read, react and separate yourself from the competition.

With young athletes through professionals the ability to move the feet while processing information (a thrown ball, recievers movements) is a knack within itself. The ladder will help you keep the feet moving and ultimately elevate your gsme.

When using the ladder the focus should be on keeping the hips low as this is a power position in which to react with power and acceleration when translated on the field.

To see what I mean check out this YouTube video I posted.

To get your hands on one of my Speed Ladders so you can start putting it to work to improve your footspeed click this link

Train Hard,

Mike Gough
PS: If you have not started to prepare for your football combine, start it today with my Combine Freak DVD (

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

40 Yard Dash Goals for 2008

With a new year comes new goals. What are your goals for 2008?

Last year I listed 5 things I wanted to accomplish in 2007, and I worked through that list until I accomplished all of them. You should do the same write them down then conquer them.

One of my main goals is 2008 is to help you get Fast. I want you to be the faster, quicker and the most exposive athlete around. I want to help you run the fastest 40 yard dash you have ever run.

Now how are we going to do this? Well through my e-mail and blog posts I will give you training tips that I use with my athletes that flat out get results. So stay tuned to each and every e-mail.

One surefre way to get fast is with my Speed Tools training gear. If you have yet to check out my new line of speed training products, then you are missing out. Check it out right here:

Chutes, Sleds, Ladders, Hurdles, and much, much more to help you unleash your athletic potential.

Now lets get after it in 2008!

Train Hard,
Mike Gough

PS: If you are looking to imprve your 40 yard dash then check out my Speed Tools Agility Ladder