Bodybuilding Heroics Highlight College Football Talking Season


northwestern football tyler lancaster

The World Cup has now arrived to help fill the void of the baseball-only doldrums that mark this portion of the annual sporting calendar. Off course, the United States of America didn’t qualify for this one, so for many sports fans, this period will remain dull until football season gets here.

At the very least, football talking season will be here soon, as it’s only a month or so away now. Each year, football talking season officially arrives when college football media days begin in mid-July.

A consistent staple of these prolonged media sessions are the glorious tales of bodybuilding heroics. Discussions of power cleans, incline press, squats, bodybuilding shoes, weightlifting gloves, protein consumption, added mass, repping out and maxing out are what these conversations are all about.


This particular type of discourse is a lot more interesting than your typical media day interviews, which are usually dominated by corporate cliches, mind-numbing pablum and pointless platitudes. When you talk shop on bodybuilding and weightlifting, you’re dealing with numbers, metrics, facts and figures, not catch phrases befitting a motivational “hang in there” cat poster.

Two past tales of weight room heroism remind of us what is to come in 2018.

In 2017, Northwestern Wildcats defensive tackle Tyler Lancaster was able to do 37 reps of 225 on the bench press, which was a higher number than any NFL Draft prospect at the Scouting Combine that year.

In 2014, former Iowa Hawkeyes Offensive Tackle Brandon Scherff power cleaned 443 pounds three times.

“He’s not just a weight room freak,” Iowa Hawkeyes tailback Weisman said of Scherff.  “He’s a football freak.” 

Indeed he was then and he is now. Scherff went on to be selected as the fifth overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, and thus ended the Big Ten’s long drought of having no top ten overall picks. 

brandon scherff

The streak dated all the way back to 2008, when Michigan OT Jake Long went 1st overall.

Scherff made the all rookie team, and has now started 46 games in the NFL. He’s made the Pro Bowl twice in his first three seasons.  Audio of the Brandon Scherff interview can be found on Sound Cloud at this link.

Moving on to Lancaster, he’s a prime example of how the capacity to bench press one’s own body weight is an accurate marker of good physical fitness.

In 2017, we learned at media day that Lancaster can bench 450 pounds, which is 140 above the 310 that he’s currently listed. For comparison’s sake, 300 is typically regarded to be an elite bench press max out for a layperson. You really have to be pretty “do you even lift, bro?!” to even get anywhere near that benchmark (pun intended)

Lancaster could also deadlift 740 pounds, and also possesses a broad jump of 9’4” and a 27-inch vertical. It’s easy to see why last summer saw Lancaster named #32 in the nation on the list of Sports Illustrated’s “workout warriors.”

tyler lancaster

His former Northwestern teammate Godwin Igwebuike described Lancaster’s ability to bench press 225 37 times as “scary.”

The weight of 225 (two plates on each side, a “plate” is the vernacular for a 45 pound weight, as it equals the weight of the bar) is considered the football standard for “repping out.” It’s the level at which one tests muscular endurance by trying to execute as many repetitions as possible.

Repping out measures endurance while maxing out is to test pure brute strength. Lancaster believes he’s much stronger and better in one area than the other.

“I feel like my repping out is a lot better than than the max, but 450 I think is still pretty good,” he said before later describing what’s going through his mind when he’s on the bench doing work.

tyler lancaster

“You’re in the zone, it’s just about you and the bar. It’s a fight, it’s a battle with yourself- can I do this extra rep? One more, one more, one more, one more.”

Audio of the Tyler Lancaster interview can be found on Sound Cloud at this link. Northwestern Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald spoke of Lancaster’s tremendous work ethic, not just in the weight room, but all around.

”He’s always been a great worker in the weight room, and a great player, but to see him kind of take it to the next level has been really spectacular. He’s not a guy that says a lot.  He’s a guy that speaks more through his actions,” said Fitzgerald.

“He’s done that since he got here and to see the relentless nature in which he attacks every day is really special.”


Lancaster did not get drafted by the NFL this past spring, but he was signed by the Green Bay Packers. He faces an uphill climb, but he will get his opportunity to make the squad when training camp opens up in July.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports and TheBank.News, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, a former writer for NBC and Chicago, currently contributes regularly to WGN CLTV and Chicago Now.

Follow him on TwitterInstagramSound Cloud and YouTube.

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