The NCAA voted last week to allow Division I schools to reopen their athletic facilities so athletes can return to campuses and resume workouts.
That welcome was first extended to athletes in football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball, then later amended to include all NCAA sports.
It’s the first domino that had to fall to make college football possible for the 2020 season since the abrupt shutdown of the sports world on March 12.
SEC presidents voted last Friday – two days after the NCAA vote – to reopen their facilities on June 8.
Conferences and individual schools will choose different times and means make this happen. As Big 10 officials voted to pass that decision to individual schools Ohio State athletics director Gene Smith told media last week that his school will open up on June 8.
As athletes prepare to return soon, coaches will find out how the shutdown has affected them not only emotionally but physically.
When state-of-the-art training facilities at their universities are not available many athletes can still return home and have access to small gyms or even high school weight rooms. That hasn’t been the case for roughly two months.
“It was tough because a lot of places were closed,” Southern Miss quarterback Jack Abraham, the former Oxford standout, told the Journal last week. “We were given some at-home workouts and things like that, but it was tough to get in a weight room and actually lift some weights.”
The limitations have also pushed athletes to become creative in their conditioning.
Some have posted their successes on social media with images of themselves and friends jumping over fences or yard art or doing whatever they can to keep an edge.
“The one thing I’ve told our players is this is a great time to see exactly where players end up. College basketball’s going to get back to normal,” Ole Miss basketball coach Kermit Davis said in March. “Are you going to use the virus as a really big excuse and not do anything? There are some cats out there that are working. They are. You’re going to see some college basketball players, NBA players separate themselves this year because there’s not a coach sitting right on top of you. It’s going to be interesting to me when our guys come back, it’s going to be right there about what guys have really tried to do some things on their own and be creative.”
David Morris, who owns and operates QB Country, a quarterback training and development business based in Mobile, says he hasn’t seen a big drop in the conditioning level of the athletes he’s worked with.
Abraham and many others have used the down time to get in work with Morris, who has also seen Ole Miss quarterbacks John Rhys Plumlee and Kinkead Dent and San Francisco 49ers quarterback Nick Mullens, formerly of Southern Miss.
Morris’ business was shut down for a while but was soon able to resume seeing clients.
“All those guys look good. Their bodies look good in the way they’re supposed to look,” Morris said.
Coaches, not only players, were forced to become creative during the shutdown.
For Morris that meant virtual workouts.
“Someone would hold the phone behind someone training, and we’d go through a session,” he said. “We’re not jumping on planes as much as we used to, and they’re not either. It’s somewhat of a new frontier in what training from a distance will look like in the future.”