Workout warrior: Arizona's Brooks Reed

May, 18, 2009
5/18/09
1:00
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Brooks Reed arrived at Arizona as a nice, clean-cut young man -- a Tucson local made good -- but in the process of becoming a workout warrior, he became Thor, the god of thunder.

 
  Kevin Terrell/Getty Images
  Arizona defensive end Brooks Reed's flowing blond locks are positively Thor-like.
OK. That's an exaggeration. Reed isn't the god of thunder. At least he says he's not, though a few of the eight quarterbacks he sacked last year might have their suspicions.

Brooks' "flowing" -- his term -- blond locks and chiseled physique certainly suggest a comic book characters.

And Reed is a good example of how a young man can transform himself with hard work from an under-the-radar recruit into a potential All-Conference player.

The junior arrived at Arizona in 2006 weighing 215 pounds. He wasn't very fast, either. He enjoyed working out, but there wasn't much science to it.

He now weighs 255 pounds. And, despite the additional 40 pounds, his 40 time has dropped from the 4.8s to the 4.6s.

As a freshman, he bench pressed 315 pounds. Now he does 425. His freshman power clean was 315. Now it's 405 (a couple of times). His frosh squat was 405. Now it's 550.

He's been bothered by back issues this off-season, but he expects to peak in the late summer and tip the scales at around 260 pounds.

What he's learned training for football is simple: It isn't all about numbers and stacks of 45-pound plates.

"I lifted a lot in high school, but I didn't work that much on stretching, hip flexibility and core work, which [strength coach Corey Edmond] really emphasizes when you first get here," Reed said. "It was a bit challenge for me adjusting to it but it's really helped me."

Lots of muscle-bound guys get whipped on the football field. Winning battles of leverage isn't like bench pressing 500 pounds. There is, of course, technique, and there's having the body and agility that allows a player to best use that technique.

"[Coach Edmond] knows my weaknesses, in my hips and my hamstrings, so when he stretches me I sweat more in that 20 minute period than I do with 10 sets of power cleans or squats," Brooks said.

Arizona coach Mike Stoops worked with Edmond at Oklahoma, and he lured him to Tucson when he was hired by the Wildcats in 2004. Edmond's obviously captured Brooks' attention.

"He's hard on you when he needs to be -- that's how he gains everyone's respect," Brooks said. "You've got to bring your A-game every day or he's going to be hard. If you can't keep up, you'll be back the next day, early in the morning."

It all came together for Brooks -- conditioning and technique -- halfway through the 2008 season, when he recorded two sacks in the win over California and another a week later in the 17-10 home loss to USC.

The general feeling around the Wildcats is bigger things are ahead for Brooks, who is less interested in being a workout warrior than a force on the field.

"I think it's really important, but the main deal is transferring it back to the field," he said. "You can be a big strong guy in the weight room, but if you can't bring it to the field and show your strength on the line going up against somebody, it's almost worthless."

If he puts up big numbers, as expected, a nickname is sure to follow. The Arizona sports information department likes, "Mr. Freeze."

It's hard to ignore the hair, however, which "flows" well past Brooks' shoulders. He said he has no intention of cutting it any time soon.

The Pac-10 blog continues to hammer the Thor theme.

After all, have you ever seen Brooks and Thor in a room together?

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