COLUMBUS, Ohio — The workout itself is relatively simple, and Mike Vrabel isn’t opposed to sharing it with anybody driven enough, or perhaps crazy enough, to try it.
So in a high school science lab in Detroit, the Ohio State defensive line coach stands in front of a room full of campers to demonstrate how they can build their strength, improve their ability to fight off blockers and maybe get a vice-grip handshake just like that of a 14-year NFL veteran.
All they have to do to get started is swap out the dry-erase board Vrabel is chopping with his unprotected hands for a brick wall.
“We worked with a couple guys in New England that were big on martial arts, big with playing with violent hands,” Vrabel said. “We developed that idea that we’d go over there and just pound our hands against a brick wall and try to make them as strong as we possibly could.
“I told my guys, it’s the same reason Bruce Lee used to kick a tree.”
Vrabel was turning his hands into weapons of destruction back then, and while they’re every bit as powerful now as they were during his playing days, they’ve since become tools of construction heading into his third season on the sidelines as an assistant coach at Ohio State.
He’s not afraid to use them with his players, either, and his hands-on approach combined with the rest of a body recently removed from a long, productive career in the NFL has clearly made him a valuable asset for the Buckeyes.
Need some fine-tuning with technique? Vrabel is more than willing to jump into position and provide an up-close example of how to get it done.
Proof that he knows what he’s talking about? Film is readily available of his record-setting stint with the Buckeyes or his three Super Bowl runs with the New England Patriots. It’s a career that at least one of his pupils has admitted to studying since Vrabel returned to campus.
And with his track record and an aggressive approach that sometimes makes it look like he’s the one preparing to play a game on the weekend, the transition to coaching has apparently been every bit as easy as it was quick when he retired in 2011 and instantly earned a job offer at his alma mater.
“It’s been everything that I thought it would be, and probably more,” said Vrabel, 37. “I can’t do it anymore [physically]. In my mind I think I can, but I know my body can’t. So I try to give them everything that I’m thinking in my head to help them go out there.
Continue reading this article at ESPN: Hands-on Vrabel making an impact