It’s late March, which means spring football at Colorado State.
Jim McElwain hosted his spring practice press conference Monday, and it was easy to see he was excited for football to begin, any football.
The man doesn’t speak in quiet tones, he bursts with excitement when it comes to football, and even CSU basketball, as we saw Monday.
When we all came together, Coach Mac was quick to boast about his team’s progress this off-season in Ram U.
“Of course, this time of year, I get those butterflies because I know spring ball is coming up,” McElwain explained. “I must say this, I’m really in a much better place personally, knowing how hard our guys worked at Ram U. And how far ahead they are both mentally and physically than where they were a year ago.”
Ram U is a new mental and physical strength and conditioning program that McElwain introduced last winter, something that’s becoming part of the annual training regiment for his Rams.
While the details of exactly what the team and individual players do during workouts is still mostly a mystery, defensive backs Bernard Blake and Shaq Bell gave us a glimpse six weeks ago. They’re hitting the gym hard, sometimes before the crack of dawn, and building strength. Later in the day, they meet for team and individual position drills, building camaraderie and chemistry along the way. When they’re not getting physical, the young men are attending mental conditioning classes — which include role-playing activities in a group of their peers. It’s something McElwain, which only a few of the most elite programs in the country are employing, wants the Colorado State Rams to be known for.
“The expectation of ‘what we need to get done’ [is there],” he continued. “As we talk about expectations, goals for this spring; they’re really quick and simple. I expect each and every one of our guys to use the 15 practices as a chance to get better and compete. And compete against each other so we make each other better. I think the understanding on how hard we practice compared to what they might’ve been used to [is there].”
CSU is learning under their new leader that his most famous “WIN” philosophy, or “What’s Important Now,” will be with them every year they don the green and gold. They all must strive for excellence or be moved aside for the next man up.
McElwain is building winners, starting from the foundation, one brick at a time. There’s no time for weak links, they have to all solidify as once force, and fast.
McElwain says, “whether it’s the o-linemen making the d-linemen better, or the d-linemen making the o-linemen better; none of this “in this drill we’re going to ‘brother in-law’ each other and take it easy on each other. That drives me crazy. So, we’ve got to take advantage of making each other better on both sides of the ball as we move forward.”
That’s exactly what Colorado State will do with their spring practices, which begin today, and go through the April 20th spring game.