- Adam Rittenberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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You asked (nicely) for it, and this time, you get what you want.
Remember colleague Bruce Feldman's annual "Freaks" list, which examined the top workout warriors in college football for 2010? Ohio State sophomore defender John "Sandman" Simon made the rundown, along with other weight-room stars from around the country.
Several of you loved Feldman's list so much that you wanted me to create a similar one just for the Big Ten. Thanks to help from sports information staffers and strength coaches from around the conference, I've compiled the following list.
I based my selections primarily on weight-room numbers and comments from Big Ten strength coaches.
Not every player submitted made the rundown, and both Wisconsin and Iowa chose not to make any individual player nominations. While I know guys like Iowa's Adrian Clayborn and Wisconsin's J.J. Watt do some serious damage in the weight room, I'd rather only list players who have their schools' support and whose schools provided weight-room data and/or comments from strength coaches.
Penn State didn't provide weight-room statistics but singled out linebacker Michael Mauti, wide receiver Derek Moye and defensive tackle Devon Still for their weight-room performance.
Here are my selections, listed alphabetically by school:
Illinois WR Jarred Fayson 6-0, 215, Sr., Tampa, Fla.
Bench-presses 405 pounds, squats 500 pounds, power cleans 352 pounds
Runs the 40-yard dash in 4.4 seconds
Has just four percent body fat
Indiana LB Tyler Replogle 6-2, 238, Sr., Centerville, Ohio
Bench-presses 455 pounds, leg-presses 760 pounds
Has 33-inch vertical jump
Clocked at 4.2 seconds in the shuttle run
Michigan DT Mike Martin 6-2, 294, Jr., Redford, Mich.
Bench-presses 505 pounds, squats 700 pounds
Power cleans 430 pounds, hang cleans 475 pounds
Runs the 40-yard dash in 4.9 seconds
Strength coach Mike Barwis says: "Mike is an absolute warrior. He has a never quit attitude and is a natural born leader. He is one of the most impressive physical specimens I have ever seen."
Michigan C David Molk 6-2, 270, Jr., Lemont, Ill.
Bench-presses 490 pounds, squats 660 pounds
Power cleans 420 pounds, hang cleans 440 pounds
Runs the 40-yard dash in 4.9 seconds
Strength coach Mike Barwis says: "Dave is an outstanding worker and a natural athlete. He is one of the most naturally explosive linemen I have ever trained."
Michigan State LB Eric Gordon 6-0, 228, Jr., Traverse City, Mich.
Bench-presses 415 pounds
Squats 600 pounds
Best 40-yard dash time among Spartans linebackers at 4.52 seconds (Greg Jones clocks in at 4.55)
Michigan State TE Charlie Gantt 6-5, 248, Jr., Farmington Hills, Mich.
Bench-presses 470 pounds
Squats 535 pounds
Has the top 40-yard dash time among Spartans tight ends at 4.72 seconds
Minnesota LB Mike Rallis 6-2, 210, So., Edina, Minn.
Has increased his bench press from 325 to 365 pounds during the last year
Power cleans 345 pounds and squats significantly more than 550 pounds
Strength coach Mark Hill says: "Mike's work ethic exemplifies a guy who wants to succeed. He comes into the weight room every day and shows that he wants to contribute to this team winning. He does everything he needs to do. Mike absolutely attacks his workouts every day."
Minnesota RB DeLeon Eskridge 5-11, 198, Jr., San Francisco
Has improved his squat from 250 pounds when he arrived at Minnesota to 375 pounds now
Increased his bench press from 300 pounds to 340 pounds during the last year
Has increased his power clean from 250 to more than 300 pounds as a Gopher
Strength coach Mark Hill says: "I’ve been very impressed by DeLeon's improvements. He was a 185-pound freshman who had to play, due to depth issues. He could have used a red-shirt year to get bigger and stronger. But to see where he’s gone to achieve the strength, weight, speed, explosiveness and power needed to be a successful Big Ten back says a lot about his hard work."
Northwestern QB Dan Persa 6-1, 210, Jr., Bethlehem, Pa.
Bench-presses 385 pounds, squats 550 pounds and power cleans 330 pounds, all top marks for Wildcats quarterbacks
Soon will earn second consecutive "Top Cat" award as Northwestern's top weight-room performer
Strength coach Larry Lilja says: "Dan is off the charts. No one works harder in the weight room. For his size, I doubt there is any quarterback who can match his numbers."
Northwestern DT Corbin Bryant 6-4, 285, Sr., Chicago
Bench-presses 475 pounds, squats 600 pounds and power cleans 385 pounds
Has a 34-inch vertical jump
Strength coach Larry Lilja says: "He's one of our best workers and a true champion in the weight room."
Ohio State DL John Simon 6-2, 270, So., Youngstown, Ohio
Bench-pressed 450 and squatted 700 pounds as a high school senior
Can do 40 bench-press reps at 225 pounds
Runs the 40-yard dash in 4.8 seconds
Strength coach Jeff Uhlenhake says: "John Simon is the best total package workout guy I’ve ever been around, in college, in the pros, as a coach, anybody. He is amazing."
Purdue T Nick Mondek 6-5, 299, Jr., Naperville, Ill.
Former defensive lineman bench-presses 435 pounds, squats 605 pounds, power cleans 352 pounds
Has a 31-inch vertical jump
Runs the 40-yard dash in 4.82 seconds
Strength coach Jim Lathrop says: "Great worker who really has challenged himself. He has taken the position change and run with it. He is a leader in the weight room."
Purdue S Albert Evans 6-0, 206, Jr., Gary, Ind.
Bench-presses 355 pounds, squats 500 pounds
Power cleans 319 pounds
Strength coach Jim Lathrop says: "Albert has really improved and is establishing himself as a leader."