A bit of background before launching in and letting Mr. Villani speak for himself. Tony Villani is a Clemson grad with an MA in Exercise Physiology from George Washington University. He worked for various professional sports organizations like the Wizards and the Orlando Magic before creating XPE, Inc., which is now based in South Florida. He has a seriously impressive list of clients such as Jamal Lewis, Anquan Boldin, Usi Umenyoria, Hines Ward, Cris Carter, etc.
I do want to put up this disclaimer though--this post is about XPE Sports and Tony Villani and not expressly about the current state of Clemson's S&C program (we can save that for another post or comments). In fact, as you will see, Villani is extremely supportive of Batson and the work he is doing (again, the consummate professional).
Vic Beasley has rightly been getting all the media attention for blowing up the combine with the help of XPE Sports but I also wanted to talk to Tony about Stephone Anthony who had an equally successful combine, especially among the ILB group. Tony pointed out that this level of achievement is not uncommon with XPE clients:
First and foremost, everyone is making a big deal about Vic Beasley but we have been getting those improvements for years (and you will see below with A LOT of Clemson guys). Maybe I do a bad job marketing...but all I care about is RESULTS.In fact, our ONLY OLB at the Combine last year is below and he gained weight from 216 to 233 pounds:
LB Kevin Pierre-Louis (2014) – 40 #1 (#12 All-Time), Bench #3, Vertical #3, Broad Jump #2 (#7 All-Time), 3 Cone #6, Shuttle #2 (#6 All-Time)And...we have had a 1st Round Pick from the D-Line Position for 5 years in a row and I am sure we will have 2 more this year with Vic and Shane Ray from University of Missouri.
BC's Pierre-Louis's impressive combine led to his selection in the 4th round by the Seahawks. Before that performance he was on the fringes of even being drafted. Next I wanted Tony to give us a laymen's take on S&C and what training for the combine looks like specifically.
Strength and conditioning is just that. "Strength" in the weight room and "conditioning" by running. We use that as part of our program for NFL Off Season Training, but we are more training for "speed, explosion, and agility" gains for NFL Combine Results. It helps us that such a great strength and conditioning base was built at Clemson with Coach Batson with (Vic and Stephone) but we needed to change their training completely to unleash their full potential for speed, power and agility in such a short amount of time. For football, you need them all. For the Combine, you only need speed, power, and agility which is why the training is so different than typical "strength and conditioning" training.
I understand this to mean that combine training is kind of like a refiners fire--that last honing of the skill-set and talent to maximize your potential with the drills. I definitely get that--its a different process. However, I saw Vic Beasley's lower body make quite the transformation. Here is what 'experts' were saying about Beasley pre-combine (many of the websites have been scrubbed since people were obviously not watching enough Senior tape):
Beasley looks too slight to be an effective defensive player on the front seven. His frame does not appear sturdy enough to pile on more muscle to create even the illusion of an every-down defender. -Frank Cooney, The Sports Xchange-
High cut with narrow waist and thin legs. Needs to add more bulk. Unlikely to convert speed to power against NFL tackles. -NFL.com (draft profiles)-
So what happened with those 'thin' legs??
Vic came in very strong so it was easy to increase the size of his legs. We DID NOT lift weights with him. We instead taught him how to run and jump explosively and trained him with powerful movement exercises that would increase his speed and power...NOT strength. We have a piece of patented equipment called the XPE SHREDmill that forces you to use power with every step when you run and we use it 4 days a week in our speed and leg training. Vic already had a great strength base so it helped him with the gains that he got by being here.
XPE SHREDmill??!! I'll take three...(or one for every player on our team).
When I brought up on Twitter that Vic's substantive weight gains were an indictment on our S&C program (too much?), a lot of people countered that it must just be water weight or that Vic had cut out all cardio. The water weight is just nonsense--look at that Beast. Here is what Tony said about that:
Vic did NOT gain water weight. Impossible to hold onto water and workout well. He started at 233 pounds and gained about 2 pounds per week over the course of our 6 weeks of training. We weighed him day before weigh in and he was 244.8 pounds. He woke up and ate a breakfast and was 246 pounds. He did this by eating constantly around every workout we had. There was no magic food or supplement done. He liked peanut butter, which is a good source for calories, so we told him to put it on everything he ate. Simply to increase his caloric intake.
He will maintain and be able to play at that weight. This process we did with Vic has been done with many athletes we have trained. It is not a one time thing.
Stephone Anthony went through all the same training. He first impressed everyone and won the LB of the Week award at the SR Bowl and now out performed EVERY LB at Indy that included all the top Junior LBs ranked ahead of him. I expect for this to now change all those Mock Drafts that people are seeing. Since he did not have to put on the weight Vic put on, he actually improved his 40 yard dash a little more than Vic actually did.
I created XPE 13 years ago and it took me a while for a lot of the Clemson guys to start coming. They started coming because of all the results we were getting at other schools so in 2009 it started:1) Aaron Kelly in 2009 NFL Combine ran a 4.4 Laser 40 and jumped 38 inches after he gained 16 pounds and weighed in at 204 at Indy. The scouting report on him was he was small and lacked speed and explosion.2) Chris Clemmons in 2009 as a Safety ran a 4.41 Laser and 4.33 Hand Time at Indy. The only year a Safety ran faster than all DBs.3) In 2010 I trained Jacoby Ford, Crezdon Butler, Ricky Sapp, Kavell Conner, and Chris Chancellor. Jacoby (#1 WR), Crezdon (all 4.4 laser and hand times), Ricky (#5 DE), Kavell (#3 LB) all ran very fast and Rich Eisen asked "What was in the water at Clemson with all that speed."4) 2011 I had Marcus Gilchrist and Byron Maxwell. Both were Top Performers in the 40, Bench, and Explosion tests. Marcus moved from 5-6 round projection to 2nd round drafted and Byron from undrafted projection to 6th round drafted. Both Byron and Marcus have trained here ever since and therefore others from their draft class like Jarvis Jenkins and Daquan Bowers (who both had bad workouts who trained somewhere else) have also come and joined in the off season workouts from the NFL.5) 2012 only Clemson guy I had was Coty Sensabaugh who went from undrafted grade to 4th round drafted AFTER he absolutely smashed the NFL Combine and was a Top Performer on EVERY test at Indy.6) 2013 we had Andre Ellington who was battling hamstring issues and Jon Meeks. Jon Meeks DID NOT even have a Combine invite but after a great Pro Day was drafted in the 5th round! Both guys also continue to train here every off season.7) 2014 I had Martavis Bryant who also smashed the Combine and ran faster than Sammy Watkins and was a Top Performer in the 40, Bench, Broad, Vertical and Shuttle Agility drill.
I WOULD LOVE TO HELP CLEMSON IN ANYWAY POSSIBLE. I TOTALLY BELIEVE IN COACH BATSON AND THE STAFF THERE AND THE TYPE OF YOUNG MEN THEY ARE RECRUITING AND WHAT THEY BELIEVE IN. IT IS THE ONLY SCHOOL I WOULD EVER CONSIDER WORKING WITH OR FOR. EVERY CLEMSON GUY THAT TRAINS HERE ASKS ME TO SELL SHREDMILLS TO CLEMSON AS THE FIRST COLLEGE THAT USES THEM AS A LOT OF NFL PLAYERS HAVE PERSONALLY BOUGHT THEM (ANQUAN BOLDIN, MARK INGRAM, KAREEM JACKSON).