MORGANTOWN - Despite a plethora of reports that would seem to indicate otherwise - including one in this space - there is really nothing new about West Virginia's football players using boxing workouts as a training and conditioning tool during the summer months.
Shoot, there have been speed bags and heavy bags hanging in the weight room in the basement of the Puskar Center almost since the place opened for business.
But there might be just bit more emphasis on boxing drills this year as opposed to the past simply because it's boxing's turn.
"You're always looking for ways to motivate the unmotivated,'' strength and conditioning director Mike Joseph said. "You never know what's going to do it.''
True. This year perhaps it's boxing. In another it might be lugging oversized truck tires or pushing cars around the parking lot, as Al Johnson used to have his charges do during the summer. There's always competition of some sort or another because, let's face it, showing up every day and just lifting the same weights or running the same sprints or cone drills just isn't all that exhilarating.
"You have to make things interesting,'' Joseph said. "It can be a long summer.''
The law school hill is, of course, still in play during the summer, although Joseph tends to pick his spots for that. There was a time when that was pretty much a weekly part of the regimen, but as training methods develop and are refined, rest and recovery play a bigger part.
There's still a place for boxing, though.
"It enables you to improve your foot speed, your hand speed, your reaction time, all kinds of things,'' Joseph said. "And it's not just for the linemen. We get the fullbacks and linebackers in there, too.''