After racking up three national championships in four years, the Crimson Tide football team is used to dominating opponents and shattering records. Alabama defensive tackle Jesse Williams is no different. After helping propel his team to its latest BCS title, Williams has set his sights on the NFL Combine Bench Press record. (See Inside 'Bama Football's Weight Room.)
Eastern Kentucky's Justin Ernest set the record in 1999, posting 51 reps of 225 pounds. Already a projected first round pick, Williams maxes out at 600 pounds, so shattering the record should be a breeze, right? Well, maybe not.
During the Bench Press test at the NFL Combine, athletes are expected to lift 225 pounds as quickly as possible. Rapid-fire lifting forces the central nervous system to recruit the maximum number of muscle fibers, so the reps require more strength and less tension. Fast reps also raise the heart rate, providing an anaerobic benefit and making explosive lifting better suited for fewer reps. So even athletes who can easily bench 400 pounds find it difficult to throw up double-digit reps of a much lighter weight. This explains why former top-round draft picks like Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh (32 reps) didn't come close to the record. (Check out Ndamukong Suh's Combine training.)
Still, Arizona Western College defensive coordinator Jerry Dominguez, the coach who discovered Williams in Australia, believes the tackle will have no problem beating the Combine record. In an interview with the New York Times, Dominguez stated that Williams should be able to do 55 to 60 reps.
As insane as that prediction sounds, it might be doable. Two years ago, defensive tackle Stephen Paea hit 49 reps, and Paea maxes out at 550 pounds. Regardless of his Combine results, Williams' impressive skills on the field are sure to pay off for the NFL team that decides to swipe him.
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