College makes you slower- comparing HS vs NFL Combine 40 times

Submitted by iawolve on March 1st, 2013 at 11:50 AM

This article is great and adds more validation to how many "Fakes out of Five" that are associated to a HS 40 time. In all fairness, some of these guys were likely significantly bulked up based on needs of their position or simply filling out their frames with required mass to be a college player. However, the skill position players don't have that same excuse.…



Caveman Bob

March 1st, 2013 at 12:48 PM ^

We're talking about still-growing athletes who are improving their leg strength and doing regular speed training with professional coaches. They're adding weight, but it's primarily muscle, which tends to increase speed rather than slow you down. I could see why a guard might slow down a touch by going from 270 to 310 lbs, but skill position players should become substantially faster.


March 1st, 2013 at 1:52 PM ^

Exactly.  There's almost no way these guys are slower now than they were in high school.  Men mature a ton physically during that time, and the strength and conditioning is much more intense in college. 

Lots of players add weight, but as you said that's mostly muscle which makes you faster, and very few players are asked to put on weight at tthe expense of speed.  You're OL exception is probably correct, but I would go more extreme than that - like an Omameh situation - 235 to 305.  He may have had a faster 40 in high school, or a guy who switches from TE to OT or something like that.  

But most players, like a LB who puts on 30 pounds over 4 years, does not get any slower with that weight.  He almost certainly runs faster, since a lot of that weight is helping him do so.

MI Expat NY

March 1st, 2013 at 2:16 PM ^

I think you both are over selling the speed improvements seen in college.  Getting "straight-line" faster isn't necessarily a huge part of a college S&C program.  Most kids coming in are already excellent athletes and for many speed is already a trait that is fully developed.  Try and think of the last recruit to come in with questions about foot speed who has developed speed into a strength by the end of his career.  For all but DBs and WRs, football is about quickness and explosiveness.  That's where your S&C programs focus their energies and that's why guys add weight.  While adding 30 lbs of muscle might not necessarily slow one down, it would be highly surprising for anyone to actually get faster with that extra weight.  


March 1st, 2013 at 2:33 PM ^

What are you basing that on?  It's not surprising at all to put on 30 pounds of weight and get faster.  Have you seen most non-Usain Bolt sprinters?  They're built like tanks, and I'm sure they weren't that way in high school. 

I agree with you that there aren't typically guys who aren't fast coming in who all of a sudden become so, but that doesn't mean they aren't getting faster.  If I guy is fast for a recruit, and at the combine he's fast for a draftee, I promise that guy got a lot faster over his four years in college.  

I'm sure if you asked Jake Ryan if he's gotten any faster since he was in high school he'd say yes, and he has added a good amount of weight.  Any male who doesn't drastically change his workout routine will get faster from 18 to 22, with very few exceptions.  

MI Expat NY

March 2nd, 2013 at 11:28 AM ^

Non-Usain Bolt sprinters like Tyson Gay?  He of the whole 177 pounds?  Or Yohan Blake who checks in at a whopping 168?  Or Asafa Powell who is one of the biggest looking sprinters there is: 6'3", 190 lbs?  Those guys look like tanks, but when you examine there actual sizes it becomes clear that their strength is particularly targeted to help with sprinting and they're not looking to add bulk that is necessary in football.  

There's no question that there's a correlation between muscle strength and speed, but not all muscle is helpful.  Added bulk, even if its mostly muscle slows down runners.  It just does.  When a football player talks about getting "faster" he's generally talking about quickness, explosiveness and the mental skills to get to the right spot quicker.  He's not talking about being faster in the 40.  

So what am I basing my observation on?  The simple fact that almost every guy whose speed was a weekness when he first saw the field, his speed remained a weekness at the end of his career.  That and Denard Robinson not seeming any faster his senior year than he was in his first carry against WMU as a freshman. 


March 1st, 2013 at 12:46 PM ^

I agree with Magnus on this one regarding Green ..  Anyway - this is a great point about the environment of combines/7v7/recruiters etc at the High School level.  As an example look at past 40 times our of the Mich Prep combine in Wixom.  More 4.3's/.4's than an NFL combine and all reported straight faced.  Timers are on chairs watching (and not watching) the starts.  Seems best 40's are kids who use the video highlight/recruiting  service.  This is one example. 

Give me a team of skill players that are all burners in the 10 and 20 and I'll give you a championship.  40's maybe for corners and WR's but like they were talking about in the combine - some nfl teams don't care about a stable of 4.3 CB's. They used Seattle as an example - heavy press man and lots of help over the top because of their base coverages.


March 1st, 2013 at 12:54 PM ^

Here are the averages by position group from the table of this year's Combine participants that they provided:


WR 4.49 4.47
TE 4.74 4.64
S 4.61 4.50
RB 4.61 4.49
QB 4.86 4.77
OL 5.22 5.10
LB 4.72 4.55
DL 4.85 4.83
DB 4.48 4.48

The averages for defensive backs are a little misleading here - if you go out one more decimal place, you see a 0.004 difference in times, but essentially, it seems to vary significantly by position.


March 1st, 2013 at 1:48 PM ^

The Notre Dame players in that study really looked bad.  Brian Kelly must beat the speed out of them :)

Never would have guessed Theo Riddick at a 4.68 40.


March 1st, 2013 at 2:57 PM ^

You don't have that much wear and tear at that age (unless you've been seriously injured).  The body's recuperative powers are great in the college years. 

Also, adding "good" weight does not necessarily make someone slower.  Sprinters are not rail-thin by any means.


March 1st, 2013 at 3:19 PM ^

The explanation that HS 40-times are phony is a good one, but it's also worth noting that HS players probably tend to go by their best-ever 40 time, whereas those times are being compared to what you get on a single, high-pressure day at the combine. Along with a lot of players having bulked up significantly in college, I don't necessarily think HS times are quite as untrustworthy as this article makes them seem.

Personally, the best I ever ran was 4.75, which I did twice in a row. The rest of the story is that I did so on a track. Wearing spikes. Which is cheating. Still, not terrible for a 6'3' 230 DL.


March 1st, 2013 at 3:42 PM ^

I think everyone "bulks up".  Every player has that excuse, regardless of position.  Trimming fat/adding muscle/getting into a set, college workout regiment happens to every player on the team.  Even QBs can add dozens of pounds.


March 1st, 2013 at 3:58 PM ^

is always suspicious.  I was not a blazer in my HS days, but I consistently ran a 100m in around 13 seconds when I was on track in 8th grade. However in HS football, I once got clocked by my coach twice in a row running a 4.6, which translates to a 100m time of 11.6. I was an undersized center (5'11", 210) and the fastest lineman on the team, but there was no way I was that fast.