Friday 26th April 2019

Michigan Football Players Take “Athletic SAT” at Summer Combine

Michigan Football Players Take “Athletic SAT” at Summer Combine

Michigan Football Players Take “Athletic SAT” at Summer Combine
Michigan used Zybek Sports timing technology at the school’s summer combine. (Courtesy of Zybek Sports)

College football pro days work in conjunction with the NFL Scouting Combine to highlight the players’ potential. Prospects often run through the exact same drills on their campuses, yet their times are almost universally better than at the Indianapolis combine—because pro days and the combine are not the same tests.

That’s why University of Michigan strength and conditioning coach Ben Herbert invited Zybek Sports to campus earlier this summer to assess the football players under uniform conditions to the combine.

Zybek Sports has been the official timing partner of the NFL combine for the past eight years, using a fully automated system. Most pro days still rely on coaches with handheld stopwatches, whose times inevitably trim about two-tenths of a second off a sprint.

Zybek founder Mike Weinstein aspires to make such testing standards universal, much like the SAT pre-college academic aptitude test. In fact, he even calls his assessment “Standard Athletic Testing” and owns the trademark for the acronym SAT.

“It was something I wanted to replicate and give our guys exposure to, not only from a preparation standpoint but from an experience standpoint,” Herbert said. “You can’t recreate what Indy is, but you can do some things that are very similar.”

(Courtesy of Zybek Sports)

Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh, who of course is a longtime NFL quarterback and coach, is fond of saying he wants to run his program in Ann Arbor as “the 33rd NFL team.” A pro-style offense, arduous training, and meticulous attention to detail are all part of that.

Weinstein and an assistant timed three combine drills: the 40-yard dash, the shuttle run (also known as the 5-10-5 drill), and the three-cone test. Weinstein had compiled the results from those drills at the 2017 and 2018 combines to create a large data set. That helped the Wolverines contextualize their results.

“I thought the players really appreciated and were so eager to find out how they’d stack up at that event,” Weinstein said.

Noting that every linebacker at the 2018 combine had a 40-yard dash within a half-second range, from 4.38 to 4.87 seconds, Weinstein added, “Very small differences [in time] will make a major difference, potentially, in their career.”

The results data provided to Michigan included splits at 10-yard intervals during the 40. That can help a player understand if he needs to improve his explosive power during starts or emphasize top-end speed and endurance at the end of the sprint. This can help Michigan’s strength coaches customize workouts.

“Now we have some information we can dive into,” Herbert said, “and look at some things closer to get a feel for the different data that we got and how we can take it and apply it.”

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