Thomas and Rubin preparing for season

July 23, 2001|By ERIC GALVAN, Sports Writer

If there is anything other than natural ability that has made Kurt Rubin and Robert Thomas into the football players they are, it's their off-season workout programs.

Both are 21 years old, both are 1998 graduates of Imperial Valley schools — Rubin from Brawley Union High and Thomas from Imperial High — and both are entering their senior seasons in college.

The similarities seem to end there.

The two are in the midst of summer workouts but are taking different approaches in preparation for the 2001 football season, with two-a-day camps beginning in August.

The 6-foot, 200-pound Rubin, who plays safety for Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, decided the best way to improve himself would be to stay at school during the summer and work out with his teammates under Cal Poly strength and conditioning coach Chris Holder.


"For me I think it's really important that I stay up here and work with the rest of the team," said Rubin. "I think that just builds more camaraderie, we get to gel as a team and it just gives you an edge.

"My freshman year I tried working out in the Valley, but I really couldn't find anyone to work with. So the past few years I've just stayed up here during the summer."

The 6-foot-2, 240-pound Thomas, who plays inside linebacker for UCLA, takes a different route. Picked as the pre-season Pac-10 defensive player of the year by Linday's magazine and considered a likely first-round draft pick in the 2002 NFL draft, Thomas is working out with San Diego Chargers speed coach Doug Hicks.

Thomas is working with NFL players such as free-agent running back Rashan Salaam, Chargers linebacker Orlando Ruff and all-pro Chargers linebacker Junior Seau.

"The past couple of years during the summer I really didn't focus strictly on football. But this year I'm concentrating 100 percent on football," said Thomas. "I think the only thing I'm losing by working out here is that I'm not around the rest of the team.

"But I'm learning a lot from these guys, just watching them and seeing their approach to everything. I mean, when I feel tired and they're still going, I know that I have to keep pushing myself to keep up with them."

Another difference in Rubin's and Thomas' program is the aspects of skills they're addressing. Rubin is sticking to his guns by working in the weight room, building strength.

"We're in there four times a week doing squats, incline (press) and power cleans to get more explosiveness. Then we'll do some 7-on-7 drills," said Rubin. "For me, strength is the key. Then we'll do a lot of foot work, which builds quickness. Being quick on the field is really important. That's another big key."

Thomas is approaching his final year in a bit of an unorthodox fashion. He is spending a lot more time on the beach and roaming the hills in San Diego. No, he's not vacationing but improving his speed and quickness on the sand and up the hills.

"It's really a lot different than what I'm used to. They have me doing that and they have me on a nutrition diet," said Thomas. "All that was hard at first, but I've gotten used to it. Now I'm bigger and stronger and this is really the best I've ever felt. This was the first time I've ever done this and I think I'm going to stick with it."

One of the most noticeable differences Thomas has seen is in his body fat. He went from 15 percent body fat to 9 percent because of his new healthy diet.

Both players are approaching the season with hopes of playing at a higher level following college.

"I'm not worried about that right now. I'm just focused on our first game of the year against Alabama," said Thomas. "I'm going to take one game at a time and just live and learn. When I go out on the field I'm going to play each game like it's my last."

Barring any major obstacles, it is almost a certainty that Thomas will be suiting up for an NFL team next year.

Rubin is not as highly touted and doesn't play for a national contender, but he would still like to keep those professional football dreams in his mind.

"For me playing football after school is really up in the air. I would love to play on another level and I'd love to jump on a situation if it presented itself," said Rubin. "But I'm going to go into this season with nothing to lose and just leave it all on the field. I don't want to look back and have any regrets about anything."

Both will get to put their off-season work to use Sept. 1 with Rubin's Mustangs hosting Montana and Thomas and his Bruin teammates traveling to take on Alabama.

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