Chase Griffin doesn’t need his heart rate monitored or hydration level checked to know that his coach’s sports science program is working.
All he has to do is wake up.
“I feel fresh and renewed every morning,” the UCLA freshman quarterback said Saturday.
Coach Chip Kelly is as guarded about his sports science program as he is about his playbook, refusing to divulge any specifics, but his players rave about the impact of the team’s nutrition, sleep and recovery efforts.
They are the rare college students who get adequate sleep because they know it’s just as crucial to their success as learning the nuances of a fade route.
Griffin said athlete performance coach John Underwood recently spoke with players about the importance of getting at least eight hours of sleep a night and how it requires consecutive nights of proper rest to perform on the field.
“I’m definitely seeing it,” Griffin said.
Coaches assist the bedtime routine by requiring players to be in their rooms by 10 p.m.
Just as essential is the recovery process after practice. Griffin said he’ll ice his arm, take an ice bath and apply heating pads to sore areas. Kelly also has provided a handful of rest days during training camp as the team approaches its Aug. 29 season opener against Cincinnati.
“He gives us all the time we need to get a full recovery in,” redshirt sophomore quarterback Austin Burton said. “Cold tub, treatment, whatever it takes, he really takes care of us that in that aspect.”
Kelly also has ensured his players eat well. They’re provided three meals a day, with plentiful options.
“You’re going to like something that they offer, so it’s really awesome,” Burton said. “I don’t know if another team in the country gets to have the nutrition that we get, so it’s really amazing what coach Kelly has been able to do with that whole nutrition part.”
Griffin has noticed an appreciable difference in his body since his arrival on campus in January, saying he feels “agile, quick, fast, twitchy out there on the field. … I’m just moving easier, my arm is coming out hot and I’m seeing it on the ball too. It’s exciting.”
At 5 feet 11, Griffin weighs a robust 185 pounds and said he’d like to reach 190 or more during the season.
“I’ve honestly felt the best I’ve ever felt at every practice,” Griffin said. “The recovery that we have, the training staff that we have, the treatment that we have available and the ability for us to get sleep every night, those are things that may be overlooked at some other places; not at UCLA.
“That’s one of the things that makes this such a great place, and coach Kelly fits the mold perfectly for a place like UCLA, and that’s part of the reason why I’m here.”
Cornerback Darnay Holmes wore a yellow jersey Saturday, signaling that he was recovering from an undisclosed injury. Kelly did not speak with reporters and is not scheduled to do so until Sunday.
Running back Joshua Kelley stretched with his teammates for the first time since sustaining a knee injury Aug. 1 but remained limited in his practice participation. Running backs Kazmeir Allen and Jahmon McClendon both returned to full participation after being slowed by injuries.
Linebacker Hayden Harris hurt a finger on his left hand during drills and had it examined by the training staff in a medical shed before returning to practice.
Offensive lineman Sam Marrazzo and receivers Theo Howard, Dymond Lee and Ashton Authement also wore yellow non-contact jerseys. Howard caught punts for the first time in training camp during the portion of practice open to reporters, protecting the right wrist that remains heavily wrapped by trapping the ball against his chest.