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September 7, 2006If any person ever had a question about how SPARQ Training translates over to the football field, they should have tuned in Saturday as the Oregon Ducks hosted the Stanford Cardinal in the 2006 season opener for both teams.
The two most explosive athletes on the field in Eugene should have came as no surprise to astute observers, as both Oregon RB Jonathan Stewart and Stanford RB Toby Gerhart recorded top SPARQ Ratings during their high school days.
Stewart, a well-put together 5-10, 230 pounder, first burst onto the scene back in 2001, when he rushed for over 1,300 yards as a freshman at Timberline High in Lacey, Washington. He went onto to become a three-time Student Sports All-American, and also a two-time NIKE Camp MVP, the only player to ever accomplish such a feat.
His performance at the 2003 NIKE Camp in Eugene was before the advent of the SPARQ Rating, but was still off the charts, as he clocked a 4.57 40, a 4.19 shuttle, benched 23 reps of 185 pounds and posted a 37.1-inch vertical, which equates to a 93.64 SPARQ Rating.
The next spring, prior to his senior season, Stewart returned and posted similarly gaudy testing numbers, finishing with the camp's second-highest SPARQ Rating at 97.54 after running a 4.52 40, a 4.34 shuttle, benching 29 reps and jumping 36.9 inches in the vertical.
Stewart didn't have a featured role at Oregon as a true freshman last fall, but showed up Saturday in his first career start against the Cardinal, rushing 20 times for 168 yards and two scores, and should challenge for the Pac-10 rushing title this fall.
Gerhart, a true freshman, entered the game with a much lower profile than Stewart, despite a stellar two-sport career at Norco (Calif.) High in which he finished as the Golden State's all-time leading rusher with 9,662 yards on the ground. The solidly built 6-1, 230 pounder entered the game third on the Cardinal's depth chart and figured to see more time on the baseball diamond this year, where he posted an Area Code best 89.10 SPARQ Rating in 2005, than on the gridiron.
That was until the explosive Gerhart entered the game after a quarter and began to punish the Oregon defense with tough run after tough run. Although his final numbers didn't show it, Gerhart's 16 carries for 55 yards behind a soft offensive line against a solid defense have cemented him as Stanford's back of the future and given hope to Cardinal faithful that perhaps this offense can be more than Trent Edwards to Mark Bradford and Evan Moore this year.
Both Stewart and Gerhart's early success in the 2006 season and their college careers are proof positive that SPARQ Training can separate the elite from the good and help an athlete transition quickly from the high school to college level. For more information on SPARQ Training, log onto sparqtraining.com!