Outdoor Track, The Hurdles and Football

13 Track & Field Events that Quantify Football Power & Speed – Part IV: Outdoor Track, The Hurdles 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 more additional football references. TrackingFootball would like to thank him again and please take a look at one of his other articles which has generated over 5K shares on social media and over 20,000 views ’10 Reasons to Join the Track Team’.

In Part Three of this blog series we looked at Outdoor Track, The Relays and Football This time we will focus on the hurdle races and how they relate to quantifying football speed.  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 Holler’s unless noted.

No. 7

110 HIGH HURDLES … This is the only event that competes with the 100 as the ultimate race of athleticism for football players.  See Derek Hanson’s article “Why Do Hurdlers Make Great Football Players?.”  My son, Alec, is a terrific hurdle coach.  When asked to describe the qualities of elite hurdlers, he said, “Speed, coordination, rhythm, power, and coachability.”  College football coaches like those kinds of players.  Plainfield North has been blessed with great hurdlers.  Much of that credit goes to my three sons.  In 2009, Alec was my hurdle coach, Troy was a senior hurdler, and Quinn was a freshmen hurdler.  They got it all started in the early days of Plainfield North.  My hope every year is to have a freshmen under 17.00 (last year 17.00), and a couple of varsity guys under 15.00 (last year 14.55 and 15.04).  The 2014 Illinois state champ was Antonio Shenault of Lake Park running 14.14.

Even though 14.14 is a great time for the Lake Park junior, the Crimson Tide has two hurdlers who would have made Shenault look slow.  Marlon Humphrey ran 13.24, and Tony Brown ran 13.38.  These guys are future Olympians.  Baylor’s football hurdlers aren’t quite as good.  Ishmael Zamora ran 13.68, Chance Casey ran 13.80, and Austin Jupe ran 14.14.

Tony Brown of Beaumont Ozen High School, now an Alabama  football player

Tony Brown of Beaumont Ozen High School, now an Alabama football player


TrackingFootball says:
The hurdle events require practice, coordination, speed and consistency.  Hurdles indicate not only a certain level of straight-line speed but more so agility, flexibility and coordination, all of which play prominently in the game of football.  Athletes that participate in the hurdles must take a “linebacker” mentality into the event.  Hurdlers are taught to “attack” the hurdle and “be the first to hurdle out of the blocks”. Both the high and intermediate races are very intense and physically demanding events. 

There are many examples of collegiate and NFL linebackers that successfully participated in hurdles during their high school career.  I suspect many linebacker types are drawn to the event for the reason mentioned above.  In addition to linebackers, there is a long list of defensive backs, wide receivers and running backs that had high school and collegiate hurdling backgrounds. 

Hurdles are so popular in terms of their athletic application most football teams have adopted stepping “hurdle” drills for warm-up and flexibility, both in and out-of-season.  I see many private athletic training facilities have hurdles in use for all kinds of drills….makes me wonder why more athletes and football players don’t run hurdles for real?  The hurdles have great athletic carryover to football.   Fast hurdle times indicate some straight-line speed but even more coordination and balance.  All of which are important attributes in football.

Players with verifiable high school hurdles speed that translated to the NFL:
Rod Woodson
– CB / DB 13.71 / 110 hurdles – 36.04 / 330 hurdles state champ
Willie Gault – WR 13.80 / 120 hurdles state champ
Steve Smith – WR  14.95 / 110 hurdles – 38.73 / 300 hurdles
Ronde Barber – CB 14.05 / 110 hurdles state champ
Barry Word – RB 13.88 / 110 hurdles state champ
Art Monk – WR 13.77 / 120 hurdles – 37.43 / 330 hurdles
Dana Hall – DB 13.84 / 110 hurdles – 37.63 / 300 hurdles state champ
Al Toon – WR 14.20 / 110 hurdles
Lee Evans – WR 13.73 / 110 hurdles – 37.32 / 300 hurdles state champ
Derek Russell – WR 13.64 / 110 hurdles state record
Robert Griffin – QB 13.55 / 110 hurdles – 35.33 / 300 hurdles state champ
Ted Ginn – WR / KR 13.26 / 110 hurdles – 36.73 / 300 hurdles state champ
Dez Bryant – WR 14.56 / 110 hurdles
Antonio Cromartie – CB 14.31 / 110 hurdles
Roger Craig – RB 14.43 / 110 hurdles
Jamaal Charles – RB 13.69 / 110 hurdles – 36.03 / 300 hurdles state champ
Antrel Rolle – CB 15.46 / 110 hurdles – 41.84 / 300 hurdles
Rocky McIntosh – LB 14.76 / 110 hurdles
Twan Russell – LB 14.01 / 110 hurdles – 38.11 / 300 hurdles state champ
Joel Dreessen – TE 14.52 / 110 hurdles
Tyrone Wheatley – RB 13.70 / 110 hurdles state champ
Dexter Jackson – DB 14.49 / 110 hurdles – 38.40 / 300 hurdles state champ
Walt Harris – CB 14.50 / 110 hurdles
Richard Sherman – CB 14.13 / 110 hurdles
Denarius Moore – WR / KR 13.69 / 110 hurdles – 36.99 / 300 hurdles state champ
Geno Hayes – LB 15.89 / 110 hurdles – 41.15 / 300 hurdles
Kamerion Wimbley – LB 14.98 /110 hurdles state runner-up
Boss Bailey – LB 14.27 / 110 hurdles  state champ
Plaxico Burress – WR 38.04 / 300 hurdles state runner-up
Isaac Curtis – WR 14.0 / 120 hurdles
Dallas Clark – TE 15.60 / 110 hurdles – 59.47 / 400 hurdles
Jabari Greer – CB 14.31 / 110 hurdles – 37.59 / 300 hurdles state champ
Von Miller – LB 14.47 / 110 hurdles
Merton Hanks – DB 14.30 / 110 hurdles
Jarrod Cooper – DB 13.82 / 110 hurdles – 38.67 / 300 hurdles
Nolan Cromwell – DB 15.1 / 120 hurdles – 49.8 / 400 hurdles state champ
Todd Lyght – CB 14.25 / 110 hurdles
Niles Paul – TE 14.36 / 110 hurdles – 38.34 / 300 hurdles state champ
Eddie George – RB 14.03 / 110 hurdles state champ
Julius Jones – RB 14.02 / 110 hurdles – 38.74 / 300 hurdles state champ
to name just a few of the thousands more that can be seen here.

No. 8


300 INTERMEDIATE HURDLES … Like 100/200 stars, almost all hurdlers do both events well.  I have coached three 300 Intermediate state champions.  Every year I want one freshman under 45.00 (PN freshmen record 42. 77) and one varsity guy under 40.00 (last year 38.90).  The Illinois state champ was Conor Dunham of St. Ignatius running 36.90.  Humphrey and Brown of Alabama ran 35.60 and 37.32.  Baylor’s guys aren’t bad either, three guys under 38.00.

Marlon Humphrey of Hoover High School, now an Alabama football player

Marlon Humphrey of Hoover High School, now an Alabama football player