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Allen, Murphy, Devine among other Big East workout warriors

5/18/2009

Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett
Last summer, South Florida strength coach Ron McKeefery was pushing his players pretty hard in the weight room. Nose tackle Terrell McClain got a bit frustrated and walked out to get some water.

On his way back in, McClain stopped in front of a six-foot ledge that borders the weight area. He calmly reached one hand on the ledge -- and then leaped right over it. Keep in mind that McClain weighs 304 pounds.

"I was like, you've got to be kidding me," McKeefery said. "That was like jumping a 6-foot-fence with just putting your hand on top of it."

No matter how long strength and conditioning coaches have been at it -- and McKeefery in his ninth season with the Bulls --- they still find themselves surprised sometimes by the athletes in their care. Some are just freaks -- or workout warriors, as we're highlighting today on ESPN.com.

Five of the eight Big East schools responded to our request for their list of strength-training studs. Earlier today, I wrote about Cincinnati and two of their workout warriors, Adrien Robinson and Marcus Waugh. Here are some more around the league, leading off with McKeefery's Bulls.

South Florida:

Senior safety Nate Allen made my list of the Big East's Top 30 players at No. 26, but based on his workout numbers alone, he should be much higher.

Allen ran a 4.38 40-yard dash this spring, making him one of the fastest players on the team. By comparison, USC's uber-freak safety Taylor Mays ran a 4.32.

"That 4.3 shocked me, to be honest with you, because I didn't think he was that fast," McKeefery said. "But at the same time, he's been running really well."

One of Allen's teammates in the secondary, cornerback Jerome Murphy, was a tenth-of a second slower in the 40. But the 6-foot-1, 185-pound Murphy boasts some pretty impressive numbers himself. He has a stunning 3.5 percent body fat, as measured by the BodPod. He can bench 320, squat 450 and has posted a 10-foot, 1-inch standing broad jump.

"He's just shredded," McKeefery said. "He is as pretty as they come. His numbers in a lot of respects are a lot better than (former Bulls cornerback) Mike Jenkins, who was a first-rounder for us. I think he's set to come out and do some big things this year."

In addition to his ledge-leaping prowess, the 6-foot-3 McClain benched 405, squatted 560 and ran a 4.99 40-yard dash. And of course, there's star defensive end George Selvie ... but I'll have more on him later this week.

West Virginia

You know that Noel Devine is fast. Freakishly fast. But did you have any idea how strong the Mountaineers' running back is?

According to West Virginia's numbers, the 5-foot-7, 175-pound Devine can power clean 300 pounds, squat 500 and bench 435. Those numbers are better than some of the team's offensive linemen. He also posted a 38-inch vertical leap, a 10-foot-7 inch broad jump and ran the pro agility drill in a microscopic 4.04 seconds.

Quarterback Jarrett Brown, all 225 pounds of him, also has a 38-inch vertical and did the pro agility drill in 4.1 seconds. Brown will have a hard time throwing the ball too high for receiver Wes Lyons, who's 6-foot-8 and has a 38.5-inch vertical.

West Virginia coaches have been buzzing about nose tackle Chris Neild, and weight room numbers can tell you why. The 6-foot-2, 298-pounder squatted 625 pounds and power-cleaned 325.

Pittsburgh

Pound for pound, the following four players are among the strongest Panthers (Bench press is listed with player's body weight in parenthesis):

• Running back Dion Lewis: 365 pound bench (body weight: 190)
• Tight end Dorin Dickerson: 405 pounds (230)

• Defensive back Marco Pecora: 355 pounds (195)

• Receiver Jonathan Baldwin: 345 pounds (220)

Pitt officials say they've had four players register vertical jumps exceeding 40 inches: Dickerson, Baldwin and defensive backs Elijah Fields and Buddy Jackson.

Jackson, by the way, is the fastest player on the team in the 40, posting a reported time of 4.29 seconds. Dickerson was second at 4.38.

Louisville

The Cardinals sent along two nominees, both from the receiver position. Scott Long, a much-maligned pick for my Top 30 list but a freakish athlete, front-squatted 365 pounds. Maurice Clark, a 205-pound receiver, benched 365.