Recently, Illinois center Doug Kramer and his two roommates were standing outside of their apartment in Champaign, Illinois, trying to figure out how to simulate a college football practice drill for offensive linemen. They spotted a small parking lot about 200 feet away. They eyed Kramer's black Dodge Ram.
The answer seemed obvious -- and kind of fun.
The 6-foot-2, 300-pound senior lowered his shoulders, grasped the back bumper with each hand and grunted as he pushed with his legs and got the truck rolling for a video that now has over 33,000 views -- one of many individual workouts that have surfaced on social media as college football players figure out how to stay in shape on their own.
"We were trying to get creative with how to do workouts, because just doing pushups, situps, all that stuff, running around can get a bit boring, so you're trying to get a little creative with the workout," Kramer said. "As an O-lineman, that's one of the reasons I chose to push the truck, just because we've got to move D-linemen from Point A to Point B against their will, so we were trying to figure out what's heavy enough to simulate that, and the truck was the option."
(For the record, Kramer said he did about six or seven reps of pushing the truck roughly 25-30 yards.)
It's one example of how offseason training has been redefined across the country as COVID-19, a strain of the coronavirus, has spread around the globe, forcing a shutdown of college sports and sending teammates scattering. Some programs, such as Louisville, were fortunate to get in a few official practices before universities closed their doors, forcing football players into new routines at home filled with online classes, mostly body-weight workouts and, quite frankly, boredom.
"I'm sure they're playing some Xbox and some of those games for sure," said Louisville coach Scott Satterfield, who had seven spring practices before the cancellations. "If this was a year ago at this time, I'd be really nervous about that. With us being here over a year now, our guys know fully what to expect. All of the progress we've made over the past 15 months, they don't want to throw that aside, so I believe these guys are putting the work in to the best of their ability."
While teams throughout the country hold position meetings virtually, and try to keep each other accountable through photos, videos and group text messages, teams are quickly finding out what programs and players are the most disciplined.
"I think the accountability is at an all-time high in terms of making sure these guys are doing what they need to do," Ohio State coach Ryan Day said. "The older guys know what they're supposed to do. The younger guys need a little more guidance. Like everyone says, character is really shown when nobody is looking, and this is the ultimate test of that."
Day said his staff is "very sensitive" to the NCAA's rule of eight hours per week for "countable athletically related activities," or CARA hours.
"The message with our players is that if we have to check on you anyway, or you say you're doing something and you're really not," he said, "then we're not much of a team anyways."
At Illinois, some players monitoring their weight have to take a video or a photo of the scale as they check in. At Baylor, some players under close watch of the nutritionist are sending in pictures of their meals.
Most strength coaches have given their teams two different types of workouts: one for players who might have some weights at home or access to a high school gym, and another that's more of an old-school body-weight routine. Virginia linebacker Charles Snowden has chosen the latter, sticking with things like running, jump squats, mountain-climbers and pushups.
"Unfortunately at the Snowden household, we don't have an in-home gym, so Coach [Shawn Griswold] has done a great job of communicating with us and sent us a variety of at-home body workouts we can do," he said. "I have a medicine ball, some resistance bands and a speaker, and I make the best of it. It's not the same, but we're finding a way."
Illinois defensive back Kerby Joseph was doing what looked like standing long jumps through sand, and senior safety Kendall Smith was doing walking lunges down neighboring driveways with a case of bottled water on each shoulder. Players are packing duffel bags with books to lift, moving around furniture -- and playing video games and watching Netflix.
"There's not much else to do, really," Kramer said. "Someone bought a puzzle somewhere, I think."
Each program has come up with a tailor-made plan, further suited to each player's needs -- knowing full well it can't compare to what is offered on campus.
"There's nothing these guys can do that's going to be sufficient enough to what they can do in our office with our guys," Satterfield said. "You have your peers beside you pushing. We know there's going to be some work to do when we get back; that's going to be the case throughout the whole country."
College football players are training at home by pushing trucks and lifting books