Freaks Week: Top 25 ‘Freaks’ in college football for 2015: Nos. 15-11
For more than a decade, we’ve been spotlighting the biggest "Freaks" in college football — those guys who are the top workout warriors in the sport or the guys who possess some rare physical abilities that wow folks inside their programs. Our Top 25 countdown comes thanks to the input of many coaches, players and sports information directors around the country. The countdown to No. 1 continues through the week, and here are Nos. 15-11.
No. 15: Christian Westerman, ASU, OG: A former five-star recruit who landed at Auburn, Westerman came back home to ASU and settled in as one of the best guards in the Pac-12. The 6-4, 301-pounder is also one of the strongest men in college football. Check out the video of the 22-year-old Westerman banging out 20 reps on the bench with 315 pounds last month. A year ago, Westerman also bench pressed 225 pounds a team-best 41 times.
No. 14: Montese Overton, ECU, OLB: Ruffin McNeill has been a college coach for 30 years, working everywhere from Clemson to ECU to Fresno State to Texas Tech. But he said he’s been around one only linebacker who was faster than the 6-3, 221-pound Overton, and that was when he coached at Appalachian State and had Dexter Coakley. But McNeill said Overton is close.
"He’s a 4.3 guy when he wakes up in the morning, and he’s a 4.3 guy in the fourth quarter," McNeill said of Overton, whom ECU’s strength coach clocked at 4.31 in the 40. Overton’s 3.97 shuttle time would’ve topped the fastest turned in by any linebacker at the NFL Combine in 2015.
No. 13: Samaje Perine, Oklahoma, RB: The hulking 5-10, 230-pounder not only set an FBS record with 427 rushing yards against Kansas, he muscled his way to 1,713 yards and 21 TDs as part of spectacular freshman season. Teammates marvel at Perine’s strength, as detailed in this story from SoonerSports that includes the one about how the big back did 10 sets of 10 reps of 225. "He’s probably the strongest person on the team, and that includes the offensive linemen," said center Ty Darlington.
Perine benches 440 and does 315 for 12 reps. He also power cleans 380, broad-jumps 10-0 and vertical-jumps 34.5 inches.
No. 12: Jaylon Smith, Notre Dame, LB: The Freakiest video of Smith isn’t of the 241-pounder in the weight room, but rather this one, where he’s in the middle of the field, sheds a blocker and bursts to snatch down a running back. That’s the kind of explosiveness that has scouts comparing him to Patrick Willis.
Smith vertical-jumps 36 inches, benches 400 (doing 225 for 26 reps), broad-jumps 10-2 and has a short shuttle time (4.03), just a shade behind Overton. Smith is also ridiculously lean. The ND staff recently measured his body fat at 4 percent. Oh, and there’s one other impressive number about him.
He just turned 20 in June.
11: LaQuan McGowan, Baylor, TE: The mammoth senior caught a TD in the Cotton Bowl last year against Michigan State, sending McGowan off to cult hero status. Check out how easily McGowan hauls in these one-hand grabs.
"He’s got the coordination of a basketball player," Baylor strength coach Kaz Kazadi said.
Kazadi adds that the 6-7 McGowan has "slimmed down to 410," and that this offseason they timed the big man at 5.32 seconds in the 40. McGowan also is a 500-pound bencher, but the thing that has really wowed Kazadi is the super-sized tight end’s endurance and how he held up at their most intense offseason Tuesday workouts.
"He did not miss a rep on one of our monster workouts," Kazadi said. "He gets a lot of credit for being a huge human being, but what he’s done conditioning-wise to show his teammates how serious he was about this is the most impressive thing I’ve seen in a long time."