With Signing Day fast approaching, college football fans across the country are looking for any insight they can get on the players that will be the future of their program. Chippewacountry was able to catch up with Justin Brantley, owner of B-Fit Detroit, in order to get a great deal of insight on some future Chippewas as well as the training methods that will have them ready for the college game.
One soon to be Chippewa who has worked with Brantley since last spring is David Basirico, a defensive back from Macomb (Mich.) Dakota. When talking about Basirico, Brantley touched on his ability to work through adversity.
"David has been working with me since last spring," Brantley said. "He broke his arm at the end of his junior season against Chippewa Valley but was able to work his way back onto the field by week 2 of his senior season. I think he will do well in college and I think the CMU defense fits his style a little better."
Brantley even went on to predict a potential position switch for Basirico.
"David was a free safety in high school but I believe he will be a corner in college. He has a lot of speed and ability to cover but he will also come up and hit you."
Another athlete that Brantley talked about was Waterford (Mich.) Our Lady of the Lakes left tackle, Brandon Keen.
"I think Central Michigan definitely got a steal in Brandon," Brantley said. "Brandon is by far the most dynamic all around athlete I have ever worked with. There have been faster guys and guys who can jump higher. But I have never had anyone with his combination of size, flexibility, core strength and explosiveness."
While Keen projects as a left tackle in college, his lack of time there in high school kept him under the radar.
"Brandon's lack of time at left tackle probably hurt his exposure a little bit," Brantley said. "He played center at Lake Fenton and didn't move positions until he changed schools. If you watch his film, from early in the season and compare it to his film later on, his technique just skyrocketed. He is also a kid who could be dominant on the defensive line if he chose to go that route."
Keen sticks out for his uncommon dedication, making the trip to B-Fit from his hometown of Holly every day.
"Brandon and his family really made a commitment to his goal of playing on Sundays," Brantley said. "He and I have always said that if you want to play on Sunday, you have to work on Sunday. He actually came straight from a visit at CMU to work out with me one weekend and is here at least 6 days out of the week. He works hard and is a kid that is always willing to be challenged."
One athlete that has worked out at B-Fit that is already with the Chippewa football program is Tyler Conklin, who left the Northwood basketball program to pursue his dream of playing Division 1 football. When Conklin came to B-Fit with his desire to play football known, Justin immediately went to work getting him ready for the rigors of the college game.
"With Tyler, the biggest thing was getting him back focused on the regimen that is football. With basketball, you are more focused on the endurance. With football, we knew we had to get him to be stronger and more explosive. It was more mental than physical with him because physically, he is a freak of nature."
Brantley also offered some insight into the process that went into Conklin's decision.
"With Tyler, I think football was always more fun but basketball was more natural. Basketball was the safe choice but his potential in football is limitless. He missed the camaraderie of football along with the physical contact that comes with it. He was a completely different player from his junior of high school to his senior year and I think he wanted to build on that."
Brantley was optimistic in his predictions of Conklin's success.
"He can be a matchup problem at tight end or wide receiver. He is a hard worker and with him being forced to redshirt due to the transfer rule, I think he will come out of that redshirt year a physical beast."
Along with the future Chippewas, B-Fit has churned out a who's who of athletes from the Detroit area. Teo Redding at Bowling Green, Csont'e York at Michigan, and Andre Turner at Western Michigan all trained there in high school and reaped the benefits. Not limited to football players, Derrick Walton at Michigan, Dominique Pointer from St. John's, and Glenn Bryant from Eastern Michigan all have made B-Fit their home away from home while getting ready for basketball season.
In the class of 2014, MSU bound Deon Drake, Bowling Green bound Jalen Dingle, and several players committed to Division 2 programs have put in time at B-Fit to hone their craft.
"I've been able to work with a lot of talented kids with great work ethic," Brantley said. "It's not a testament to me but to the facility and the culture around it. These kids know when they walk in; they have to bring their all because they are going to be working with a lot of other talented kids. A lot of these kids are the best players on their high school teams and get away with a lot. In this gym, they don't get away with anything. We don't care who you are. We just want to get kids prepared for the next level."
When Brantley first began training athletes, he had to do so at commercial gyms, a process that could be frustrating at times. In January 2013, Brantley was able to realize his goal of having his own facility.
"All I want is the opportunity to give my athletes everything they need. I trained my athletes at a commercial gym and it's hard to teach technique and Olympic lifting in that setting," Brantley said. "I had to use a lot of creativity to make it work because we didn't always have the space we needed. I didn't want to shortchange my athletes so I saved up money and found a location."
Not content to just rest on his techniques, Brantley also tries to make B-Fit a unique experience for each athlete that walks in the door.
"I try to add something new each month. Last month, I added a sand pit that we call B-Fit beach. You can't go running or work out on the beach in the winter time in Michigan but at B-Fit, you can," Brantley said. "I give my all and I'm not about defining brand. Our branding is the way my athletes feel after working with me, how they compete on the field and then seeing them go and play in college."
Part of what makes the B-Fit experience unique is the fact that athletes from different and often even rival schools come together to work on their goals.
"The kids get to train with athletes from all over the area from all different backgrounds. It gives the kids a preview of the diversity they will have in there college programs. They push each other and we work with their college goals in mind. We want them to walk into a college weightroom and not be behind and be at the weights and speeds their college coaches expect them to be at."
While the goal of B-Fit is to work with the athletes to achieve their team's goals as well as the individual goals, some coaches have concerns about the athletes getting away from their high school's workouts.
"We always tell the kids that work with us that their high school weight room and program comes first and that's their home," Brantley said. "Our goal is simply to be their home away from home and be a supplement to what the high school program is trying to accomplish. It's hard to get quality work done in a packed weight room no matter how motivated you are."
"We have Division One athletes working together for the same goals," Brantley continued. "Iron sharpens iron and next level players need to be surrounded by other athletes with next level goals."
Making the B-Fit experience unique from what a high school weightlifting program can provide is the knowledge that comes with it.
"Very rarely do high school coaches have an exercise physiology degree," Brantley said. "Exercise physiology is what I studied in college. This is all I do. This isn't a side job or a hobby for me. This is my career; everything we do is scientifically backed and supplemented by the dynamic of competition."
With Signing Day fast approaching, fans are constantly reminded of the high stakes that come with competing for a college scholarship. Brantley had one final message for prospective student athletes.
"It's all about bettering yourself in the offseason and staying in shape no matter what you do. The athletes that are going to college are the ones that are training the hardest so you have to make that investment in yourself. Natural ability can only take you so far."
For more information on B-Fit Detroit, visit http://www.bfitdetroit.com/.
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