Coach Al Golden predicted it would happen, and turns out he was right.
On the eve of the opening of fall camp on Friday, every one of his Hurricanes passed the once dreaded yearly conditioning test.
“To be honest with you, they kicked the hell out of that drill last night,’’ Golden said of Thursday night’s test, which requires each player to run 14 consecutive 40-yard dashes (with a short amount of time to jog back to begin each dash) in a specified time. “A year ago that drill killed us.
"They put the time in. They put the energy in. They made sacrifices. They had the discipline to go out there and do that. Everybody that has ever been around that conditioning drill – you can’t do it alone. You can’t do it without energy, without the support of your teammates and obviously without unity and I think that proved it last night.’’
Linebacker Denzel Perryman said there were "a lot of hoo-rahs" during and after the test. "The big guys were the last ones to run through and pretty much when they were coming back on the last one almost half the team ran back with them. When they crossed the line they were jumping around."
Perryman said 6-3, 295-pound redshirt junior defensive tackle Luther Robinson "crushed the time'' in his first attempt after failing the test in previous years. "We had people run next to him to push him, standing there to make sure he didn’t give up.
"He did great.''
As for his own strength and conditioning skills, Perryman said his bench press went from 375 to 400, his 225-pound reps went from 24 to 30 and his squat went from 495 to 515.
"It’s all just hard work and a mental thing, going into the weight room with a great attitude,'' he said. "I feel like this team can be really great. Everybody is out here ready to go. everybody is locked in in the playbook, talking to coaches, watching film, doing extra work.''
Safety A.J. Highsmith said the conditioning test "pumped up" Golden. "He was excited about it. He loved the energy we had and the way we attacked it. You have to attack it the same way you do it in a fb game -- just come out and start swinging. Don’t wait around. Take advantage of it right away.''
CHICK DRAWS CROWD
Sophomore defensive end Anthony Chickillo, who had a team-leading (tied with former Cane Marcus Robinson) five sacks last season, is intent on causing havoc this season.
"The game has slowed down a lot for me,'' Chickillo said. "I know what teams are trying to do. I'm ready for a big year."
Added Chickillo: "We're tired of losing. That's something we're willing to say. We're tired of losing. We're going to have a good team this year and we're going to be ready for Boston College."
Chickillo did not want to discuss the recent Yahoo! Sports article that alleges he took improper benefits. But he did seem confident in saying he didn't expect to be declared ineligible by the NCAA.
Practice on Saturday is bright and early: 7:30 a.m. interviews followed by 8:20 a.m. practice. It is closed to the public.
SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN