DAVIE, Fla. — Theo Riddick didn’t take time to mourn his team’s destruction by Alabama in this year’s BCS Championship Game. The Notre Dame star quickly turned his attention to the NFL Combine.
Although Riddick spent his college career benefiting from the resources at one of the country’s top football programs, the running back chose to remain in the Fort Lauderdale area after the game to train for the combine.
“Phenomenal,” Riddick said of Bommarito Performance. “At Notre Dame, we had great facilities, great coaches and great trainers. But you don’t get the 1-on-1 attention you get here. Here, they critique everything, to the most minute detail.”
Bommarito Performance is one of five elite performance-training centers nationwide. Founder/CEO Peter Bommarito has two South Florida sites, in Davie and North Miami, that employ three different pro regimens: one for NFL veterans, one for NFL Draft prep and one for major league baseball players. Bommarito also works with high school athletes.
The Draft prep includes the NFL Combine, which will be held this weekend at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis.
“The Draft prep has taken on a life of its own,” Bommarito said. “Agents will pay for it, they’ll fund it … it’s a necessity. This is well beyond the standard of the 40-yard dash and things that are really popular on TV.
“(But) when you are talking microseconds in the 40-yard dash, that’s where this stuff really shows up.”
The Combine runs four days. The workouts are divided among positions: tight ends, offensive linemen and special teams players on Saturday; quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers on Sunday; defensive linemen and linebackers on Monday; and defensive backs on Tuesday.
Events people will see include the 40-yard dash, bench press, vertical jump, broad jump, a 3 cone test for change-of-direction quickness, and a shuttle run (aka 5-10-5) that tests lateral quickness.
Behind the scenes, there’s a lot more. So much so, the Bommarito Performance experience includes strength and speed coaches, communication experts, interview prep, Wonderlic test prep, a medical staff of 14 different disciplines, in-house chefs, nutritionists, and medical doctors to perform blood and urine work.
“It’s like a full-time job for these players. They come in at 6:30 a.m. and don’t leave until 5 p.m.,” Bommarito said. “It’s not that they train all day. It’s just a grueling, grueling process.
“The way I look at it, we’re preparing them for the entire bridge from college football to the NFL – which is tremendous. I like to think of us as introducing them to how to carry themselves as a professional.”
Rob Gronkowski, Tim Tebow and Torrey Smith are among the current NFL players who trained for the Combine with Bommarito.
“A schedule and workout specific for the quarterback position is something that’s helpful and unique to the program,” Minnesota Vikings QB Christian Ponder said.
“My explosiveness is a lot better. Bommarito is all I need for the rest of my career,” free-agent running back Ahmad Bradshaw said.
Bommarito has 31 clients going to the ’13 Combine. Besides Riddick and Notre Dame teammate safety Zeke Motta, the players include Miami running back Mike James; Florida LB Jon Bostic, RB Mike Gillislee, tight end Jordan Reed and defensive lineman Omar Hunter; Florida State LB Nick Moody; Michigan State RB Le’Veon Bell; Nebraska RB Rex Burkhead; Rutgers RB Jawan Jamison; Boise State cornerback Jamar Taylor; and Texas A&M LB Sean Porter.
At Indianapolis, Bommarito will set up a 24/7 suite so his players can stay on their meal plans and receive massage or medical needs.
Bommarito Performance is not the only elite complete-training site. Others include Athletes Performance, based in Phoenix with several other locations; Ignition in Naples, Fla., and Cincinnati; IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.; and XPE Sports in Delray, Fla.
“There’s definite competition, but it’s friendly competition,” Bommarito said. “I respect those other guys because they base their stuff off science, like I do. But there’s no question we all interpret science differently. I don’t respect anybody who doesn’t have a scientific and medical background.”
Bommarito, 38, began his career as an assistant strength and conditioning specialist at Ball State and also interned with the Colts. In 2000, he started working for IMG where his clients included Eli Manning. He eventually moved to South Florida in 2004 and opened his own business.
Back in Davie, the Bommarito complex is easy to miss. It’s located at a typical South Florida business warehouse location, a rectangle building with about eight separate entrances.
There are two 5,000-square-feet rooms, one for weights and one carpeted with the same turf as the RCA Dome. Behind the building is a 100-yard straight track with a soft surface that lessens impact on the knees. There also are rooms for massage and physical therapy.
On Tuesday night, 12 players sat in a room listening as Bommarito went over the weekend’s Combine schedule in detail. His NFL knowledge and league connections give him incredible insight, which seemed to be absorbed by the players. Their college professors only wish they had the players’ attention in the way Bommarito did.
One message being stressed was, “be patient.” Players will endure things at the Combine that were hard to plan for – long days, little sleep, repeated questions and medicals from various teams, unexpected MRIs or trips to the hospital.
“It gets to be a very, very meticulous process,” Bommarito said. “You can’t let the adversity get the best of you and end up doing something stupid or saying something stupid.”
The NFL Combine is crucial for the players. It also provides four gamedays for Bommarito and his peers.
“This is the one time performance coaches care about whose athletes do better,” Bommarito said. “The Combine is going to be my Super Bowl.“