13 Track & Field Events that Quantify Football Power & Speed – Part II: Outdoor Track, the 200, 400 and Football

Below are portions of an article written by Tony Holler, Head Track & Field Coach at Plainfield North High School. The full article can be viewed on Freelap.com. Coach Holler was gracious enough to allow us to use his article and viewpoints here and to expand it some more with additional football references.  TrackingFootball would like to thank him again and please take a look at one of his other articles which has generated almost 5K shares on social media and over 20,000 views ’10 Reasons to Join the Track Team’.

In Part One of this blog series we looked at Indoor Track, the 100 and 40 yard dash.  This time we will focus on the 200 and 400 meter sprints and how they relate to quantifying football speed.  Both of these events are run competitively indoor as well but at the high school level are primarily outdoor events.  Because many high school football players are either participating in other winter sports or focusing on out-of-season weight training and agilities we’ll focus on the outdoor season aspect of these events.

All comments, insights and pics below are Coach Tony Holler’s unless noted.

No 2

200 METER DASH … The 200 is usually won by the same guys that win the 100.  I do believe that wide receivers may be better in the 200, while running backs and DBs are better in the 100.  Stride length and efficiency are at more of a premium in the 200.  FAT timing and wind are also factors in 200 times.  By the way, to convert hand-held times to FAT, simply round-up to the tenth, then add 0.24.  For example, if you time someone at 22.33, round-up to 22.40 then add 0.24 to get 22.64.

DeAndrew White #2 ran 21.18 in the 200 meters

DeAndrew White #2 ran 21.18 in the 200 meters

What is fast in the 200 meters?  If a freshmen in high school runs under 23.0, he is elite.  If a varsity athlete runs under 22.00, he is also a freak in football.  Our FAT school record is 22.00.  Our state meet was won by a young phenom, Kahmari Montgomery, from nearby Plainfield Central.  His time was a blazing 21.25.  Alabama’s roster includes a 21.18, 21.25, and 21.51.  Eight guys on the Alabama roster would be 200 meter record holders at Plainfield North.

TrackingFootball says: The 200 is another pure speed event often won by sprinters that are good in the 100.  The wrinkle with the 200 is sprinters must run a curve and have a bit more body control and endurance.  So it does not replicate the 40 yard dash the way other straight-line events the 55, 60 and 100 do.  Still, the 200 does offer some insight  on pure speed and the level of speed endurance. As Coach Holler pointed out, anything in the 22.00 FAT range is great for a high school sprinter. He’s correct in that football skill players, like taller wide receivers, or those with longer stride patterns can have an advantage in the 200. 

Players with verifiable 200 speed that translated to the NFL:

Randy Moss
– speaking of wide receivers, was a state champion 200 meter sprinter as a sophomore in 21.95 and held  the Marshall University Indoor Record in the 200 at 21.15 (1997).
Eric Dickerson – 21.50 / 200 state champion at Sealy HS in Texas
Flipper Anderson – state champion 100 & 200 sprinter in New Jersey
Curtis Conway – state champion 100 & 200 in California
Lester Hayes – Former Oakland Raider great cornerback…state champion 220 yards in Texas
Eddie Kennison
Randal Hill
Jermaine Lewis

Jacques Reeves
Mark Duper
Joey Galloway – state champion 100 & 200 in Ohio
Terrance Newman – state champion 100, 200 & 400 in Kansas and 21.17 / 200 at Kansas State
Zach Brown – Current LB for the NFL Titans was state champion 10.67 / 100 and 21.52 / 200 meters in Maryland
Devery Henderson – 21.41 / 200 state champion in Louisiana
Eric Berry
Current safety for the NFL KC Chiefs was state runner-up in 200 with bests of 21.44 to name just a few of the thousands more.

400 METER DASH … The 400 is a long sprint and a test of speed, efficiency, and a top-flight training program.  Unlike the 100, the 400 is not as popular with football players.  38% of Alabama’s players ran the 100 in high school, only 10% ran the 400.  If a freshmen in high school runs under 52.00, he is a star.  If a varsity athlete runs under 49.00, he is elite.  Our school record is 48.44.  Kahmari Montgomery, the 200 champ in Illinois, also won the 400 (46.82).  2014 Alabama recruit Marlon Humphrey ran 47.30.

TrackingFootball says: The 400 is a very tough sprinting event because it taxes both the anaerobic and aerobic systems.  What this event lacks in pure football speed extrapolation it makes up for in the intangibles area, like sprinting an entire lap in all kinds of wind and weather conditions.  An athlete has to want to be good at the 400 because it requires training, courage and effort.  There are some parallels to wrestling and football in terms of mentality because it requires a great deal of toughness to run the 400.  As Coach Holler mentions above, 49.00 is very good for a high school athlete.  Very few high school athletes can just go out on the track and drop a 49 without training and effort.

Still, the 400 has many many examples of football greats running the event at high levels, particularly in high school.  There are lots of stories about NFL linebackers and ends that ran the “quarter mile” in high school and ran it well.  This event isn’t necessarily for pure sprinters and it will make any athlete that trains for it and runs it tougher.

Players with verifiable 400 speed that translated to the NFL:

One of best examples of great football players that ran the 400 in high school was former Minnesota Viking and Ohio State RB, Robert Smith.  Smith ran the 400 in sub-47 while at Euclid HS in Ohio.  In addition, Smith was a state champion 100 meter sprinter and 4×400 relay NCAA champion at Ohio State.

Other players with verifiable 400 speed: 
Ricardo Lockette – Current Seahawk special teamer and receiver was 48.78 / 400 state champion in Georgia
Antonio Cromartie – Current Cardinals cornerback was 46.39 / 400 sprinter at FSU
Nolan Cromwell – Former Rams great was 48.9 / 440 state champion and ran on very fast mile relay at Kansas U.
Santonio Holmes – Former Steelers and Jets receiver was sub-50 400 sprinter and state meet qualifier in Florida
Cris Dishman – Former Purdue and Houston Oiler cornerback was sub-48 400 state champion in Kentucky
Pat Johnson – Former Oregon Duck and Ravens receiver ran sub-45 400 at Oregon
David Gettis – Current NFL receiver with Buccaneers and former high school state champion in 400 (45.84) in Cali
Bennie Blades – Former Detroit Lion safety and Miami Hurricane great was 47.1 / 440 state champion in Florida to name just a few of the thousands more.

Another football example of high school 400 meter speed was former West Virginia and Raiders receiver / kick returner, James Jett.  Jett was a state champion 400 meter sprinter (47.72) in addition to winning the 100 and 200.  He was a Gold Medal winner at the 1992 Olympics in the 400 relay, he was extremely fast!