The knock on Mike Hull was that he couldn’t put on enough weight, and keep it, to play at Linebacker U.
Strength, though, never seemed to be a problem for the redshirt sophomore.
“He’s as strong as a bull, built like a rock,” said teammate Mike Mauti, a pretty fierce linebacker, himself. “He’s as strong as hell.”
Hull, who is finally seeing significant playing time, is regarded as the strongest player on the team.
Regardless of position. Regardless of size.
Hull is a 225-pound linebacker who bench presses 405 pounds.
In the team competition that combines speed and power, players are graded on the 40-yard dash, shuttle run, squat, power clean and bench press. Hull was second overall to Mauti.
This from a guy who was still hovering around only 215 pounds last year and was seemingly lost on the depth chart.
But another year with a new strength and conditioning coach?
Now, he’s more like a cyborg or superman.
Craig Fitzgerald’s workout approach centers on free weights and more power lifting movements. Hull combines that with paying more attention to his diet (consuming more meals) and he packed on another 15 pounds.
“It definitely make a big difference having the extra weight (for) getting off blocks and explosiveness,” Hull said.
Now, he’s playing at between 225 and 230 pounds while still maintaining his speed.
He pulled away from the field after picking up a fumble last week against Navy and delivered the clinching touchdown.
The thing is, Hull, from Pittsburgh, thought seriously about leaving Penn State in late July after the NCAA sanctions hit.
He said he was completely torn for a short while about transferring to Pitt.
“I knew the situation I had staying at Penn Sate,” Hull said. “I wasn’t really sure what Pitt had to offer and didn’t know what kind of players they had.”
“There’s no point in leaving now. I’m going to get my shot next year as a starter, hopefully, and make the most of it here.”