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A Look Inside Penn State Football’s Winter Workouts

There’s no denying that Dwight Galt has had a profound effect on Penn State football’s strength and conditioning program. His strong record as the Nittany Lions’ assistant athletics director of performance enhancement was on full display during the teams’ 22nd lifting day of the winter on Wednesday afternoon.

As the team has spent the last few months recovering from the 2019 season and preparing for spring ball, Galt has been leading players in several different speed and strength programs. In what is currently his sixth season with the Nittany Lions, it’s obvious that Galt has a clear plan in how he is getting his players ready for another year of Big Ten football.

Galt met with the media at the Lasch Building on Wednesday to discuss what the team has been up to and who has stood out so far. He explained that the team is divided into three tiers during winter workouts, the third tier being home to the “elite guys” who participate in a lot of velocity-based sessions.

Of the 108 players currently on Penn State’s roster, 23 of them are in that third tier. There are a few players who are in that group who stand out to Galt as especially hard workers.

“Will Fries is a great example,” Galt said. “Everybody squatted heavy or leg-pressed heavy today, but Will’s over there doing 405 [pounds] for two sets and that’s his training weight. He’s now in his fifth year and he’s just done a tremendous job building his body up and really getting himself in the position to be a unique player for us.”

While Fries builds himself up in the weight room for his final season in Happy Valley, there have also been some shifts on the all-time leaderboards for Penn State. Galt mentioned that Antonio Shelton benched 465 pounds, breaking Saquon Barkley’s record of 455. Micah Parsons also now has sole possession of the all-time record for power clean at Penn State with 375 pounds.

While lineman and linebackers are usually the guys you may think of when considering weight room prowess, the #LawnBoyz have also been making a name for themselves over the course of this winter.

“Journey Brown, at 211 pounds, got 395 [on the bench],” Galt said. “He was kind of brokenhearted he couldn’t get 400, but that’s a darn good bench press. We’re really pleased with that [running back] room. Not only are they hard-workers but they’re all gifted. That’s a little bit of a gift from Saquon [Barkley]. That was the culture he tried to provide in that room… and now Journey has kind of picked up that mantle.”

There’s no doubt that Sean Clifford will be one of the most watched Nittany Lions throughout spring ball and as we move closer to the 2020 season. The young quarterback may have surprised some last season with his running ability, as he finished with 402 yards on the ground and five touchdowns.

Clifford and his presumed back-up Will Levis were both working out at the Lasch Building on Wednesday afternoon. Galt mentioned that both guys have been dominating winter workouts, and he’s decided that he’s done testing them for the rest of their careers.

“Those two guys are phenomenal,” Galt said. “They’re right at the top of every list we talk about. They’re both strong as oxes, Will [Levis] cleaned 340 yesterday and Sean [Clifford] benched 350. At this point I’ve got them exactly where I want them, and I think physically they do fit that true running back-quarterback model that we try to produce.”

Galt went on to say that the pair of quarterbacks will move on to a separate program unlike what the rest of the team is on that will focus on speed and movement.

It’s clear that plenty of key players have made huge strides already during this offseason, but Galt still feels that there’s plenty of growth and change to come to his conditioning program.

“We now have these tools that we use where we can get [our players] to recover faster,” Galt said. “I think recovery, regeneration, and nutrition are things that we’re really trying to embrace. We want to make sure when Saturday comes, [whatever time] kickoff is, that they’re at their absolute peak for that week.”

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About the Author

Will Pegler

Will is a junior majoring in digital and print journalism and is Onward State's sports editor. He is from Darien, Connecticut and is a lifelong Penn State football fan. He loves a good 80's comedy movie, Peaky Blinders, The Office, and the New York Yankees and Giants. You can catch some of his ridiculous sports takes on his Twitter @gritdude and yell at him on his email [email protected]

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