Training for the NFL combine simply doesn’t happen overnight and at St. Vincent Sports Performance in Indianapolis, NFL hopefuls are met with a challenging six week program before their combine or pro day that tests their strength, as well as their own body maintenance.
The first and largest hospital-based program of its kind in the United States, St. Vincent Sports Performance employs 65 nationally certified athletic trainers, 19 physicians, 12 certified strength and conditioning specialists, two licensed sports psychologists and a registered dietitian.
Michigan defensive lineman Will Campbell said one of the biggest differences is in the way he feels in general. “When I wake up in the morning I feel so much better. The way we’re eating I think is this biggest difference for us.” Campbell said. “I was eating more sloppy, on the go and now I’m eating more organic foods and I’m really happy I decided to come here. From the medical staff to the nutritionist, I think I’m at the best place.”
A worldwide destination for elite athlete training since 1987, one of the first priorities for each incoming NFL player is to check in with dietitian Lindsay Langford who puts each athlete on an individual diet plan and nutritional program to accompany their training and lifting. You simply can’t out-train a bad diet and getting these players to where they need to be is crucial to their workout results.
The second priority is to prepare each of these prospects for the most important seven tests they’ll be taking this entire year. (The 40-yard dash, Bench Press, 3-Cone Drill, 20-yard Shuttle, 60-yard shuttle, Broad Jump + Vertical Jump) This is where Brandon Johnson comes in, one of the institute’s certified strength and conditioning trainers who has a background in football from having played at Purdue as well as having worked at the NFL level with the Green Bay Packers as an assistant strength and conditioning coach.
Johnson has been at St Vincent for the last five years and shared more detail about the process. “Each prospect is different and each player arrives here at different stages and phases of the game ,as far as their season or rehab depending if they’re recovering from an injury.” Johnson said. “Day one is a full day assessment where the athlete is at from performance assessments to biomechanical assessments so that collectively we can put the best possible plan forward to get our guys to where they need to be to test out at their best.”
Defensive End Brad Iskow of Ferris State; “I definitely feel more mobile. I am able to move around faster and more precise.” Iskow said. “I’m motivated to work harder with my teammates, it’s just a better way of doing things here."
“We only have these guys for a few weeks in reality so we really work them hard and ask a lot of them.” Brandon Johnson said. “We work out twice a day, five days a week and we also do a morning session on Saturdays. It is needed work when you’re trying to teach an offensive or defensive lineman to sprint like a track athlete in such a short window.”
The SVSP NFL Combine and Pro Day Training program offers up all of the specialist at the facility but also includes several position specific coaches for the players that includes former Colts’ Ken Dilger (TE Coach), Jim Sorgi (QB Coach), Rosevelt Colvin (DE/OLB Coach), Marlin Jackson (DB Coach) as well as former NFL Coach Larry Coyer (DL Coach) just to name a few.
Some of St Vincent’s most storied alumni include Gary Brackett - Indianapolis Colts, Tracy Porter - New Orleans Saints, Dallas Clark - Indianapolis Colts, Visanthe Shiancoe - Minnesota Vikings, Deion Branch - Seattle Seahawks, Jeff Saturday - Indianapolis Colts, Dustin Keller - New York Jets, Adam Venateri - Indianapolis Colts, Jacoby Jones - Houston Texans, Kroy Biermann - Atlanta Falcons, Nate Kaeding - San Diego Chargers, Antonio Smith - Houston Texans.
Tight End Jack Doyle of Western Michigan on his decision to work out in Indianapolis: “I picked St Vincent because of how great the people are here. When I got here, everybody was introducing themselves and obviously they have a great facility so I think this is a place that you can really get a lot out of. The nutrition staff has been awesome, helping us out with what our bodies need and taking us on trips to the grocery to help show us what we need to shop for.”
It’s a unique experience for NFL hopefuls and it’s clearly a huge advantage to train at Sport Performance among the entire team. “We always like to say; ‘You’re the CEO of your own company’ and it’s very true.” Johnson said. ”It’s easy to relax at times or tell yourself you’ve been working hard when you stay at your school or work out at home but it’s a big difference knowing that you have a team you are reporting to each day here.
Even with all of the success stories that hail from SVSP, the staff at St Vincent is ready to help every single athlete that walks through the door further themselves and their careers. “If one of my guys gets a helmet in the fall, that’s a success to me.” Johnson said. “But I’m just honored to be able to work with all these athletes and at the end of the day we’re giving them an opportunity. We want them to start their careers off strong and see them make great personal gains. We do our part to make sure they start this whole journey off right and we want to see them have a chance to play in the league because this is all a part of a big process leading up into September.”
There’s no question that having the team at St Vincent Sports Performance in your corner is the best way to maximize your potential, no matter what athletic event you’re preparing for.