116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
AMES — Iowa State strength and conditioning coach Dave Andrews’ impact was minimized last year because of the pandemic.
Andrews was hired by football coach Matt Campbell at the end of the 2019 season, but was unable to really make his mark during the offseason because no one was allowed in the facility.
He did what he could, giving guys plans to work out from their homes but even the nicest home gyms can’t replace a Division I weight room.
Now, with a full winter and spring under Andrews, all the position coaches had a similar message about how their players looked and performed physically during spring practices: “So-and-so has completely transformed his body.”
Tight ends coach Taylor Mouser said it about Charlie Kolar, running backs and receivers coach Nate Scheelhaase said it about Breece Hall, offensive line coach Jeff Myers said it about his entire group and defensive line coach Eli Rasheed said it about Will McDonald.
“He’s lost like 10 percent body fat,” Mouser said of Kolar. “He’s one of the strongest guys on our football team right now — the guy is just shredded. I could stand next to him before and feel pretty good about myself but I’m almost embarrassed to stand next to him now. He’s got all these muscles that he didn’t have before.
“Last year it looked like he was held together with wraps and athletic tape. Now, he’s healthy, moving well and he’s so strong. He’s light-years ahead of where he was last season.”
Andrews came to Iowa State from Pitt as one of the most respected strength and conditioning coaches in the nation — the LA Rams’ Aaron Donald comes back every offseason to work with him.
“Once guys see a physical change, a psychological change usually happens on top of that,” Andrews said. “We feel like we’re really trying to snowball the positives. Take the bowl win into winter workouts, into a great spring with the technical focus and the physical focus and then into the summer months where we have a positive reaction to what has happened. The players have been outstanding.”
Hall has been a prime example of a physical change leading to a psychological change.
He already was one of, if not the, best running backs in the nation last year, but after a winter and spring with Andrews, Hall has added lean muscle mass to his body.
“I’m thinking he’ll have a little more horsepower,” Andrews said of Hall. “At the end of the day, the mind runs the body and as he continues to evolve, you’ll keep seeing better and better versions of him.
“From a physical sense, he is going to be leaner, he’s going to carry more muscle mass, which in turn will carry more horsepower not only to break tackles but if you have more horsepower, you’re capable of accelerating better, which will make it look like he’s faster.”
Hall led the nation in rushing last year in large part thanks to his one-cut acceleration through the hole and breaking any arm tackles. Having even better acceleration off that one cut and more power to break arm tackles is a scary proposition for opposing defenses.
While Hall led the nation in rushing, McDonald, a defensive end, led the nation in sacks. And he too has transformed his body.
McDonald played at 230 last season as a sophomore. Every year he’s been on Iowa State’s campus, the staff has tried to add weight to McDonald, ultimately unsuccessfully.
“Last year, I was kind of in a position to be an every-down guy, but not exactly because my weight was still too low,” McDonald said.
McDonald was a first-team all-Big 12 selection last year with 10.5 sacks in 12 games. And he didn’t even start. His weight wouldn’t allow him to start because he wouldn’t be able to physically hold up. He was a third-down and pass-rush specialist, but he wanted to be more than that.
Andrews helped him get there.
So far this offseason, McDonald has put on 10 to 15 pounds and he’s hoping to add another five to 10, so his playing weight would be around 250 — much more aligned with what an every-down defensive end would weigh.
“From a physical sense, he’s put on a few good pounds of lean body mass,” Andrews said. “He’s one of those guys where you never have to worry about effort and attitude. It’s more about making sure he’s consuming enough because we’re going to stress the majority of the guys the same way, it’s about what they do outside of here as they take the next steps.
“What are they eating, how much are they eating, what do they need to consume — what are their needs? He had an outstanding winter into the spring.”
McDonald said he’s eating about eight meals per day most days and he said he stuffs himself right before bed.
He has to because his metabolism is crazy high.
But he’s excited about the added weight because with JaQuan Bailey graduated, McDonald will be relied on to be the pass rusher as well as the every-down defensive end opposite Enyi Uwazurike.
“It’s great to get these guys when you’re not immediately preparing for a season so you can lay down some of the groundwork and foundation for them,” Andrews said.