June 3, 2008

O'Dowd feeling good out on practice field

Anyone with a functioning set of eyes can tell Kristofer O'Dowd has been working.

His long-sleeved black shirt is wet around the neck. His breaths are deep and sweat is beading on the bridge of his nose before it drips off.

This isn't the portrait of a man months into an intense workout regime. This is day one of summer workouts.

O'Dowd and plenty of his teammates were back on the field Tuesday for the second day of summer workouts.

And the Trojans' sophomore center, isn't surprised things aren't easy.

"We've been preparing all year anyway," O'Dowd said. "We shouldn't be surprised with how hard we're working right now. I mean, we've been working this hard all year."

O'Dowd and the rest of the Trojans haven't had much time off since the end of fall workouts, getting two weeks off where they didn't have to be in the weight room.

But plenty of them were there anyway.

"This is a year-round kind of thing," O'Dowd said. "We're the kind of team willing to put in effort for an entire year to be the best. That's our goal. That's what we compete for."

O'Dowd had arthroscopic surgery on his knee prior to spring camp, but the 6-foot-5, 300-pounder said he's moving around fine.

O'Dowd and the rest of the Trojan offensive line have had some company at the 7 a.m. workouts conducted four times a week by strength and conditioning coach Chris Carlisle.

Trojan quarterbacks Mark Sanchez, Mitch Mustain and Aaron Corp have joined the guys who protect them on Howard Jones Field early in the morning.

"It shows a respect for what we do. It's tradition for us, the o-linemen, being the first ones and going at it our early-morning hardest," O'Dowd said. "When we have quarterbacks like Mitch, Mark and Aaron coming out there with us, it just gives us the sense that they care for what we're doing. And, we care for what they're doing.

"It's just a sign of respect."

O'Dowd also respects the process of improvement, and plans on taking a step forward after starting three of the Trojans first four games as a true freshman.

And, he said, it's not just about him, but also about the team as a whole.

"The offseason's been great. Summer should be even better," he said. "I feel like this is going to be a special year for us."

With new techniques, stretches, lifts and exercises in the Trojans' arsenal, there's very little chance the team will be able to be anything but fully committed this offseason.

O'Dowd knows he will.

"We install new things every year. This is my second year, and it's still new for me," O'Dowd said. "I trust our program, and I trust Coach Carlisle and his staff and what they have to offer.

"I'll buy in and give 100 percent in whatever we do."


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