Linebacker's future takes shape
BY Stephen Tsai
Project Blaze began with the most basic step.
"The first thing we did was teach him how to eat," trainer Ethan Banning said of his prized student, former University of Hawai'i linebacker Blaze Soares.
Soares sought help in preparing for a National Football League audition. Soares will participate in tomorrow's Pro Day in Carson, Calif. — a one-day event attended by scouts and personnel directors from every NFL team. Each participant goes through a series of disciplines, such as the 40-yard dash and bench-presses.
Soares was recommended to Triple Threat Performance, a training program that has helped scores of pro prospects.
In a pre-training interview, Soares told the counselors he wanted to improve his speed. At the time, Soares had 12 weeks to train for Pro Day.
With that time frame, Banning said, "you have to do a lot of things simultaneously. You have to work on running mechanics and skills of speed, in addition to strength development and conditioning for speed. And you need the proper muscle balance. You have a small amount of time to fix some bad habits."
But it started with the nutritional program.
When Soares reported to the Tempe, Ariz., facility, he weighed 237 pounds, with 14 percent body fat on his 6-foot-2 frame.
"Generally speaking," said Banning, who played football collegiately and professionally, "the young men don't eat the best. They eat when it's convenient."
Triple Threat has its own chefs and nutritionists. The recommendation was to place Soares on a six-meals-a-day program that was high in protein and low in fat. Water replaced soda.
"We wanted to make sure he had adequate calories and adequate hydration," Banning said.
Banning said protein came from small portions of chicken, lean pork, fish and beans. He also had 15 eggs a day. Soares ate brown rice twice a day, and four meals of green vegetables.
Soares did conditioning drills and weight training twice day, for a total of about six hours. Those were followed by body-recovery sessions, such as massages and ice treatments.
"You need to make the body health, so you can train day in and day out," Banning said.
The improvements were noticeable in before-and-after photos. For Soares, a six-pack is now his ID.
"Maybe a month or two into my training, I started to get abs," Soares said.
Banning said: "The nice thing about Blaze is that he's what I can say is an 'easy responder.' An easy responder is a guy who, once you get him adequate calories and appropriate training, loses fat and develops muscles very quickly. Blaze is one of those guys who works very hard, and is committed to everything we do. He's had pretty dramatic results."
Soares has gained nine pounds, and now weighs 246, but dropped his body fat to 8.4 percent.
He also is capable of bench pressing 225 pounds 30 times, a 50-percent increase from January.
Soares said he wants to run the 40-yard dash in 4.6 seconds, or faster.
"That's my goal," he said. "The NFL is based on speed, and I wanted to get faster. I've been working on this for three months. I'm ready to show what I can do."
TRAINING FOR DRAFT
Former University of Hawai'i linebacker Blaze Soares spent 12 weeks working out with Triple Threat Performance in Tempe, Ariz. Soares, who is preparing for April's NFL draft, worked out six days a week with training lasting about six hours most days. Soares ate six meals per day and had two deep tissue massages per week. His position drills were coached by former Eagles linebacker Barry Gardner. At right, are Soares pre-training and post-training measurables.
Note: For linebackers, a good time in the 5-10-5 drill, which measures change of direction, lateral quickness over 5-, 10-, 5-yard distances, is between 4.2 to 4.6. A good time for the L-drill, which measures change of direction, balance, acceleration while running around cones in an L shape, is in low-7's.