- Michael Rothstein, ESPN Staff Writer
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PLYMOUTH, Mich. -- As far as steps to a professional career go, both Mike Martin and David Molk understand the gravity of this week. With good interviews and performances, the pair of former Michigan linemen could boost their stock during this week's NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
Molk and Martin have been going after the same goals for the past month, including this: trying to break the event's bench press record of 49 repetitions of 225 pounds, set last year by Oregon State defensive tackle Stephen Paea.
Since their college careers ended with a win over Virginia Tech in the Allstate Sugar Bowl, they have spent almost every day at BarwisMethods Training Center -- the gym of former Michigan strength coach Mike Barwis.
The goal of the training sessions has been to make them leaner and stronger while also increasing their flexibility and athleticism. The big potential prize, though, is the combine record.
"On a good day, both of them can get after it," Barwis said. "It is a matter of how they do and how their body is feeling. To be honest with you, though, it doesn't really matter. They are both going to bench enough anyway that people are going to go, 'Wow!'
"I'm not real concerned with the record. I'm concerned with making sure each guy can do to the best of his ability with each drill and maximize his position in the draft."
The bench-press record is a realistic goal. Both have lifted around 500 pounds multiple times in the two weeks leading up to the combine and put up more than 30 repetitions at 225 after multiple sets of lifting heavier weight.
Working out together has been part of the plan all along. Molk has been eyeing combine numbers the past three seasons. Martin has always been one of the stronger players in college football and wanted to prove his speed and agility for a 307-pound defensive tackle.
They figured working out with each other would be mutually beneficial as they believe part of the reason they are in this position is because they challenged each other for four seasons.
They selected the same agent, Rick Smith from Priority Sports. And they both ended up at BarwisMethods with their old strength coach.
"We knew we wanted to go to a spot together," Molk said. "Because there's only one person in the country who can push me, who is at my strength level, and that's Mike, and vice versa."
The only difference in their preparation is their physical capabilities. Molk had foot surgery after an injury in the Sugar Bowl, keeping him from running at the combine and from being able to train on agility and running drills.
Molk's recovery process has gone better than expected. He hasn't felt pain in the foot and has no swelling, and while he said he'll likely fail the physical at the combine this week because he is a month out of surgery, he feels like he will be close to passing it.
Molk instead has focused on rehabilitation and strength, including the bench press. Barwis has done mostly manual training work with him because of the injury. Last Monday, as he worked different lifts, Molk had to be careful not to jump or put too much pressure on it.
"I'm still supposed to be in a boot," Molk said. "I'm not supposed to be able to do anything. Frankly, I feel great. Nothing hurts it. I haven't taken a single step that goes, 'Ooh, that feels weird.' That's usually how you judge how you're recovering, how you're healing.
"I haven't felt a single thing."
There are good and bad results to Molk's injury. The positive is he doesn't have to worry about track training for some of the drills as he rehabs his foot. The negative is he won't be able to post numbers this week, and he'll likely end up answering questions about his injury.
Plus, he felt the combine would have been a definitive strength.
"It kind of kills me, because that was always what I was really good at," Molk said. "I could kill all those drills."
Martin will have that opportunity. He said if he breaks the bench record it would be "icing on the cake," but he is more concerned about showing off his speed and athleticism.
Playing in January's Senior Bowl gave Martin an idea of what to expect. Both Martin and Molk also spoke with former Michigan linebacker LaMarr Woodley, who has been training at BarwisMethods, as well as former West Virginia center Dan Mozes, now a trainer at the complex.
"You can't just be a strong man out there," Martin said. "You have to move and make plays and Mike (Barwis) has been doing a great job in really overhauling and transforming us since we left Michigan."
It is a transformation with this goal in mind: Making a good impression for the future.
Michael Rothstein covers University of Michigan sports for WolverineNation. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @mikerothstein.
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