Derrick Locke's goal has always been to play in the National Football League, and the former Kentucky running back thinks he's helping his chances of doing that thanks to the training he's receiving at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
“They are looking to help me with all the stuff for the combine and draft. It’s not just physical training and weightlifting, but it is so much more,” Locke said. “Everything we do is intense. We train for everything. Mental training, speed training, vision training, media training. We are training for the NFL, not just to go to the NFL.”
Locke, who is in Mobile, Ala., this week for the Senior Bowl, has some good company among the 24 players with him in Florida during his six-week training for the NFL combine in Indianapolis and draft.
Also, there are three-time All-American Rodney Hudson of Florida State, Niles Paul of Nebraska and Anthony Castonzo and Mark Herzlich of Boston College. Herzlich just won the Rudy Award for beating a rare form of bone cancer to come back and play his senior year.
“Derrick is fantastic. He is a sweetheart and has been great to work with,” said Kim Berard, director of public relations at IMG. “He has been beyond gracious. He really understands what we can do to help him, and he is unbelievably driven.”
Trevor Moawad oversees the program and is director of the IMG Performance Institute. Moawad also serves as a mental conditioning consultant for more than 20 college and pro teams and organizations, including Alabama, Florida State, the Jacksonville Jaguars and the U.S. Soccer Federation. He has worked with current Alabama coach Nick Saban for the last six years, including during the Crimson Tide’s 2009 national championship season.
“The NFL evaluation process is pretty complex and very comprehensive,” Moawad said. “What Derrick did at Kentucky and in the SEC speaks for itself and he has a lot to be proud of. That’s over now.
“Some teams will be excited to draft him on what did there, but others look at what he does next. He has the Senior Bowl, scouting combine and pro day all to impress people,” Moawad said.
Moawad said it’s impossible to know whether Locke’s college career, pre-draft interviews, pre-draft workouts or the NFL combine could be the determining factor in where he is drafted.
“Some teams may look at his college career, some at the next six weeks to fine-tune what they think about his speed, toughness, ability to catch and move outside,” Moawad said. “Our goal for Derrick is to make sure he controls what he can control and that his overall body of work is as complete as it possibly can be.”
Locke ran for 2,619 yards and 22 touchdowns at UK, had 883 receiving yards and three scores, and returned kicks for 1,450 yards and three touchdowns.
Those working with Locke include former NFL quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke, Olympic and NFL speed coach Loren Seagrave and college and NFL strength coach Jeff Dillman. Current NFL standouts who have gone through the same training include Drew Brees, Anquan Boldin, Eli Manning and LaDainian Tomlinson.
Former Harrodsburg High School and Kentucky standout Dennis Johnson also trained at IMG before he was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals. Former UK basketball players Ramel Bradley and Tayshaun Prince also trained there.
Locke begins his day at 6:30 a.m. with breakfast with a nutritionist to focus on obtaining his optimal weight. Next comes a 45-minute workout focusing on total body flexibility, followed by 90 minutes of movement training that focuses on drills Locke will do at the combine. He’ll go next to 90 minutes of position-specific training where he’ll catch passes out of the backfield and do work to improve his footwork.
“Then he gets about a 90-minute break before he will do vision training, mental training with me, and some communication-slash-media training,” Moawad said. “He’ll go from there to the weight room for a two-hour life, and he ends his day either with a massage or the hyperbolic chamber. So he basically goes from 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. every day.
Locke went through some intense workouts at Kentucky, especially in his senior season when strength coach Ray “Rock” Oliver arrived.
“But coach Rock was more about conditioning-type of stuff. This is not conditioning here. It’s more about getting ready for the combine,” Locke said. “I have done more intense stuff before. This is more about how to take care of my body. We touched base on that at Kentucky, but this takes it to a different level.”
Locke was one of Kentucky’s fastest players, and one of the fastest in the SEC. He was a standout sprinter and long jumper in high school and set records in the long jump at UK.
“If a guy is fast and has no technique, you can teach him technique and make him faster,” he said. “But even a guy like me can work on his 40(-yard dash) time. This can get me faster. It you get your technique even better, train and tweak this or that, you can get faster.
“It’s not really going to change your football speed. What you see is what you get. But it’s more about combine stuff. Right now I am just trying to get everything down and doing all the speed work I can.”