If college football games truly are won and lost during the offseason, then Fred Roll feels pretty good about Kansas University's chances this fall.
Roll, entering his 13th season as KU's director of strength and conditioning, supervised the summer conditioning program, and liked what he saw.
"I think it's probably, as far as a team effort, as good as we've ever had since I've been here and I'm not just saying that," Roll explained. "You always have one or two people that don't want to comply, but it's been great. The team's put pressure on people that haven't wanted to work out. It's been really a good summer.
"We're ahead right now in conditioning of any team we've had since coach (Terry) Allen's been here."
Roll said there were about 65-70 players who participated, which was "a little above average."
While the players concentrated on lifting weights and bulking up during the winter, the emphasis over the summer was on conditioning. This summer was more competitive than in the past because the Jayhawks were voting on which players they felt were working the hardest.
"The thing we're really trying to do right now is really get fit and then just a little bit stronger than we were in the wintertime," Roll said. "We've got a really good strength level. We don't have a Moran Norris, but we've got a lot of guys that have gotten stronger and we've had great effort in our conditioning.
"Like I said, our conditioning level is superior right now."
Norris, you might recall, was legendary for his weight room ethic. He bench-pressed 225 pounds an eye-popping 37 times during the NFL combine, catching the eye of the New Orleans Saints who drafted him in the fourth round last spring.
KU sophomore running back Reggie Duncan is in the same mold, recording a team-best 635-pound squat lift in the spring and also having a 410-pound bench press to his credit.
The Jayhawks have been excelling in other areas as well.
"I think I had a great summer, the best summer I've had here," KU senior wide receiver Harrison Hill said. "I've gained eight pounds. I got a little faster, got a little stronger. I feel pretty good."
Something Kansas is doing differently this year than in the past is testing players when they come back this fall as opposed to before they leave in the spring. The coaches hope the change will encourage players to keep in shape during the summer.
"We've pushed really hard," Roll said, "and constantly every day reminding the kids, 'You can't back off. You're either getting better or you're getting worse.' We just try to get better every time that we work out."
The intense conditioning schedule included sprint work, running Campanile Hill, 110-yard sprints at Memorial Stadium, lateral work and heavy squat lifting.
Players also have found other ways to keep busy, though.
"I'm trying to play some golf in my spare time, go to the pool," sophomore quarterback Zach Dyer said, "trying to do some normal summer stuff."
Dyer's typical day this summer included his macro-economics and nutrition classes from 8 a.m.-noon, a lunch break, then weightlifting and conditioning from about 3-6:45 p.m., before going home for dinner, hitting the books and occasionally renting a movie. The QBs and wide receivers also spent time throwing and working on routes together.
Although his busy schedule left little time for golf, Dyer said he tried to get out to play once a week or so anywhere and with anyone.
"Toward the end of the summer I tried to a little more," Dyer said, adding fellow quarterback Jonas Weatherbie was a popular playing partner. "In the beginning, it was not too much."
Now that the dog days of summer are winding down, the Jayhawks are ready to get going this fall.
"I think everyone's really excited," Dyer said. "You go all spring and all winter, practicing and scrimmaging especially in the spring when you're scrimmaging against your own team. You start getting a little more anxious for game situations.
"I know I'm looking forward to this year."
KU's newcomers report on Sunday, while the varsity squad arrives Aug. 8. The first day of two-a-day practice sessions is Aug. 10, and the first day in full pads is Aug. 14.