Ex-Iowa players defend strength coach

Updated: February 1, 2011, 8:02 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Former Iowa football players are voicing support for Hawkeyes strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle as the university investigates how 13 current players came to be hospitalized with a muscle disorder following a series of grueling workouts.

Indianapolis Colts linebacker Pat Angerer, in a statement posted on the National Football Post website, said he was "tired of all the negative attention" being focused on the team's strength and conditioning program. He said workouts under Doyle at Iowa "did not push us too far, it just pushed us places where most people couldn't have gone on their own."

"I have done the '100 squats' workout more than once and it is a very tough workout. After the workout, your legs are going to be sore for a couple days and you're going to be tired," Angerer said, according to the National Football Post. "No matter how hard it was, after I was done my teammates and I felt like we had accomplished something great together."

Angerer also credited Doyle with helping him reach the NFL.

"He took an undersized Iowa kid that wasn't ready to play college football and turned him into the 63rd pick in the 2010 NFL draft," Angerer said, according to the website.

The 13 players were hospitalized a week ago with rhabdomyolysis, a stress-induced syndrome that can damage cells and cause kidney problems.

All 13 players have since been released from the hospital, but are undergoing blood tests designed to monitor how the players' kidneys are filtering muscle breakdown material and are recovering from damage caused by stressors, a family source told ESPN's Joe Schad.

The players' families have met with Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz and athletic director Gary Barta, the family source said. Among the questions asked at the meetings were for how long the intense workouts had been planned; whether players' access to water was restricted; and if players who missed a team-provided meal were told to run.

Multiple family members said a key question they raised with Iowa officials is whether the previous, apparently similar workouts described by former players had been conducted after a long layoff -- the current players hadn't trained with strength coaches for three weeks -- or during a period of regular conditioning.

Among the Iowa players hospitalized was first-team All-Big Ten defensive back Shaun Prater, according to a person close to the player. Prater's blood test results are close to normal, but he has been told he will miss a month of workouts, according to the source.

Matt Bowen, who played safety at Iowa, credited Doyle with running a program that "trains you to become a successful football player," according to The Daily Iowan, the independent student newspaper at the university. Bowen is currently a columnist for the National Football Post and the Chicago Tribune.

"He never put my teammates in danger," said Bowen, according to the report. "He knows how to push your limits and push you past that threshold, but he doesn't put you in danger."

Former Iowa offensive lineman Julian Vandervelde told The Daily Iowan he had completed workouts similar to the workouts that preceded the players being hospitalized.

Vandervelde also said players "aren't pushed to do anything they can't do" -- but added that doesn't always stop them.

"College football is such a pride-filled community," Vandervelde said, according to the report. "Nobody wants to be that guy who says, 'I'm hurt.' Doesn't matter if it's your arm or your leg, if you can walk, the suck-it-up-and-walk-it-off mentality is there, even if that's not the mentality that's preached by the program."

Information from ESPN college football reporter Joe Schad and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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