Gatorade at Super Bowl XLV: Rookies, Writers Start Working Toward 2011 NFL Draft

Jack HarverCorrespondent IIFebruary 1, 2011

SEATTLE - OCTOBER 30:  Quarterback Jake Locker #10 of the Washington Huskies passes against the Stanford Cardinal on October 30, 2010 at Husky Stadium in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

"Amazing," Minnesota's Chris Kluwe reflected during his December Twitter war with Sports Illustrated columnist Peter King, "how expert some people are at things they don't know how to do."

Believe it or not, athletes and the media types who hound them don't always see eye to eye.

That goes for the on-field action, which has fueled experiments from the late author George Plimpton's misadventures as an NFL practice squad quarterback in 1963 to Spike TV's recent Pros vs. Joes series.

But it's been doubly true for the hours of off-field training put in by every would-be professional on the journey to the big leagues, working tirelessly behind the scenes toward dreams of stardom...

Until now.

This week, against the backdrop of the world's biggest sporting event, Gatorade and NFL Films are kicking off a year-long project featuring 14 rookies and the role sports science plays in their bids for greatness.

Gatorade's rookie class, highlighted by likely first-rounders Blaine Gabbert, Cameron Heyward, Jake Locker and Mark Herzlich, will report to the Gatorade Performance Lab in Dallas for testing over the next few days. There, Gatorade's team of trainers and scientists will analyze their bodies for fat and lean muscle mass and take performance measurements such as movement speed and lung capacity.

After they've been poked and prodded, the rookies will work one-on-one with the Gatorade Sports Science Institute to develop a personalized training and nutrition program.

Each step of the way, from Dallas to the NFL Combine, the 2011 NFL Draft, and through their first season, NFL Films will be watching for them to rise above their peers at the next level.

And from this week 'til April, a few of us writers have been asked to tag along.

We'll be weighed and tested in Dallas under the same format as Gatorade's crop of upcoming NFL first-years; for yours truly, it'll take place at 4 pm this Thursday. When the results are in, we'll be told what to eat and how to exercise over the next three months.

Then, at the 2011 NFL Draft in New York City, those trainers and scientists will put us through a follow-up test to show how sports science can boost the athletic performance of professionals in fields other than football.

Maybe they want us to appreciate just how much research and detailed attention goes into producing the physical specimens who entertain us on Sundays. Maybe they, like Kluwe, want us to see how tough the daily grind of being a pro really is.

Maybe they just want to get a good laugh while watching us try—and then, once this week's joke is over, prove the power of nutrition and smart training by whipping us into shape.

In any case, it's going to be a fun ride. Later this week, look for more detailed coverage of the testing and how Gatorade plans to keep this rookie class ahead of the curve, including an on-site interview with Cameron Heyward.

As for this tag-along journalist, I'll be looking to show well in Thursday's tests and hit the training program hard. Standing 5'10" and weighing six eggs over 184 pounds as of this morning, I'm pushing for a solid single-digit body fat percentage by April. That wouldn't be a league-worthy physique, but it'd represent a personal high water mark from tipping the scales at a chubby 230 less than two years ago.

The BOD POD will tell all. Stay tuned.