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Speed Kills

Good God, HeismanPundit's on a roll lately.  Between stops at the ATM and calls for revolution, he has this terrific entry about the fastest players in the NCAA, grouping them into two categories---actual times and perceptively who is fastest.

Actual time winner---LSU's Xavier Carter, an EASY call.  Sorry Reggie Bush fans.

Perceptive winner---Ohio State's Ted Ginn.  Nice point about his unusual gait ("he has a unique running style that betrays his hurdling background---head down and in a crouch").

HP knows his running and speed stuff, obviously, adding analysis of players' styles and strides ("Ginn is a gazelle, Devin Hester is a jaguar.  He has the rare ability to maintain his speed for the entire length of the football field").

And another golden nugget---the younger bucks like Ted Ginn are not as far along in the wear and tear department, giving them a slight nod over the more banged up warriors like Reggie Bush and Adrian Peterson.  Football players naturally lose speed over time, although a handful can maintain their speed through their careers better than others.  So as a very gentle rule of thumb, a guy like Ted Ginn will never be as fast in college as during the first day he hit the field his freshman season.  Every play after that, assuming little actual speed development, he's adding hits and thus subtracting from his speed.  That and things like lifting weights and body mass without necessarily training for speed also subtract from true speed.

I witnessed a lengthy (somewhere near two hours) argument between four track-savvy, football-savvy folks in January that highlighted many of these concepts.  The sticking point appeared to be that players couldn't get faster than when they came in.  Obviously that's not 100% true, but football training is different than training for the 100 meters or 200 meters, in that football players are generally adding mass and muscle, while track guys are doing different muscle focus for weights and not adding the same kind of mass.  Things got fairly into the nitty gritty, and so I'll kind of drop off from here.

The bigger picture is, speed often makes for a great football player, just look at the names HP mentioned.  Not a bad bunch of guys, right?  Measurables do matter, in our book.

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