Spring isn’t all rest and relaxation for the nation’s elite football prospects. In fact, their training intensifies during this portion of the offseason.
Carl Lawson – Milton (Alpharetta, Ga.) junior
Lawson, eight-ranked defensive end for the 2013 class by Rivals, uses spring to mentally prepare for his senior year. The 6-foot-3, 248-pound Auburn recruit had 80 tackles and 15 sacks last year.
J.T. Barrett – Rider (Wichita Falls, Texas) junior
Though he’s already committed to Ohio State, Barrett doesn’t slack during spring because “I don't want to get left behind.” The Ohio State-bound quarterback is hoping to shave 0.2 seconds off his 40-time and top last season’s 1,500 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns.
E.J. Levenberry – C. D. Hylton (Woodbridge, Va.) junior
Florida State commit Levenberry is working to build on last season’s 151 tackles, eight forced fumbles, four sacks and three interceptions. Levenberry, the nation’s No. 15-ranked 2013 prospect by Rivals, integrates hill running as part of his speed training.
Max Browne – Skyline (Sammamish, Wash.) junior
Browne, a 6-foot-5, 210-pound quarterback and USC commit, trains seven days a week. His goal is to add 10 pounds of lean mass and build speed and strength. The nation’s No. 8 overall recruit is also working to surpass the 45 touchdowns he had last season and help the Spartans to another state title.
We asked these nationally ranked juniors how else they’re tackling spring training to improve their football IQ and maintain their edge.
Define your offseason training philosophy.
Levenberry: There’s always someone out there working hard. If you slack off, you’re going to move back.
Barrett: Don’t look back on the season and think, ‘I could have gotten better, and I didn’t take advantage.’ There’s a time to take a break and let your body relax, but when you have the opportunity to work, you need to take advantage.
What’s the role of spring training?
Barrett: It’s very important offensively and defensively. Yes, the ‘real’ season starts in the fall, but here at Rider it starts in spring. Knowing how everyone is doing — whether it be blocking, pass coverage, blitzing — helps us all develop.
Browne: Not all teams do intense spring training, so it’s a way to get a leg up. You can really advance as a player and not lose anything you gain during the season.
What’s your main training goal?
Barrett: Mentally, I’m looking at the game as a quarterback. I need to get reads faster and know what to do before I snap the ball.
Levenberry: I’m at a 4.7 (40-yard). I’m trying to get that down to a low 4.6 or high 4.5. I also want to put more muscle mass up top my body. I’m not where I need to be, so I’m in the weight room pumping iron to get right.
What’s the most challenging workout you do?
Barrett: County Fair. Like a fair, you move from one ride to the next, but instead of rides, it’s a workout of Farmer’s Walks, ropes, tire flips, sledgehammer slams on the tire — that’s just a few. It feels endless. I’m glad we only do it once or twice a week, let me put it like that.
Browne: Army crawls. I’m not very good at army crawling in the first place, and we do it on a sticky, hard surface. You don’t move very well, so it’s tough.
Lawson: Waking up every morning at 6:30 to lift. That has the most strain on my body, but it doesn’t bother me. If you don’t have a love for the game, you can’t be pushed.
What’s a component of your spring training that’s really giving you an edge?
Browne: On Sundays I go to the Barton Football Academy — a big quarterback training facility — for a two-hour workout. I do a bunch of footwork drills and throw routes.
Levenberry: I work out with (former Washington Redskins linebacker) LaVar Arrington. He trains and mentors me. I just worked out with him on Saturday and my whole body was done. It was hard to even walk up the hill to get to my car.