College Football

IU football team prepares for next season with ‘virtual offseason’

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (WISH) — When campuses closed down mid-March, teams including Indiana University’s scattered across the country and were tasked with simulating a college football practice while working from home.

“Every single player was able to give feedback from every player and tell our strength staff, and say, ‘OK, this is what I have access to at my house,'” said Tom Allen, IU head football coach. “And then Aaron Wellman and his staff had to go through and create an individualized workout plan for each guy.”

Wellman was hired as Indiana football’s head strength coach just weeks before the pandemic shut down college sports. He said his staff spends 10 to 12 days designing three-week programs and making sample videos for each player based on their inventory lists.

“Some guys have water jugs they filled up. I get texts regularly,” Wellman said.” Almost every day from multiple guys, they’ve found. Or I got a text last week, he found a big tractor tire.”

“I actually got on Facebook Marketplace,” said Indiana graduate senior Jovan Swann. “Got a little rack set up in the garage, got my plates and weights and everything. I know we’ve got some guys in Florida. Indiana is known for getting those Florida recruits and I’ve seen some guys working on the sand. I’m kind of jealous of that because it’s great for the body.”

However, Swann found a workout fit for his hometown in Indianapolis.

“My group of guys that I train with, to push a truck, we’ve got a few trucks being from Indiana, a Midwest guy,” Swann said. “I’ve got an F-150 and we pushed that around a little bit. Just to build up that stamina, that endurance, that way your muscles don’t get fatigued.”

From burning rubber to running backyard drills, all of these are tailor-made plans from Wellman, who was brought in for this very reason: He’s well-equipped to handle these unusual circumstances.

“The one thing that helps us, you know Coach Wellman coming from the Giants, you know the NFL has a four-month period where they are not with their players, so he’s kind of used to doing this, obviously not in this primitive way,” Allen said.

For Wellman, his main concern this offseason is making sure his guys are not only ready for next fall but will remain healthy throughout the upcoming season.

“I was in the NFL for four years prior to this and, in 2011 and the lockout, there was a fourfold increase in ACL injuries. So, we’re cognizant of that. Our minds go to that,” Wellmans said. “We’re always concerned about the health and welfare of our players and we need to mitigate risk when they come back. And the risk is blatantly obvious that their soft tissues aren’t going to be conditioned chronically as they would have been when we lost 11 spring ball prior to the several opportunities.”


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