Just How Fast Are College Football Players?

People often wonder about all the things that happen at the NFL combine. Basically what goes on is athletes are studied and measured. How high can they jump, how fast can they run, that kind of thing. The results are public. But why is this done? What does it all mean?

It’s actually pretty interesting. Let’s just take a look at one popular state, the 40 yard dash. If you want to do the 40 in 5 seconds, you have to run 16.3/mph. Since you have to start from 0 and accelerate to a top speed, your top speed would have to be even faster than that. The top time in recent years of 4.24 requires a steady speed of 19.2/mph. A few things might help illustrate this.

First, this is a video of a guy from ESPN or something running the 40 in his suit. He gets a high of 15/mph or so I believe. Then the 40 as run by actual football players is superimposed. It’s pretty startling to see the difference:

Ok, so the average person can’t compete. Now check out these two treadmill videos. The first is a girl on a treadmill at 6/mph who cranks it up to 10/mph. She is literally at an all out sprint to keep up:

Now this is a professional, commercial grade treadmill of some kind at 23/mph. I say that because I recently bought a treadmill and browsed these treadmill reviews first. Nothing got faster than 15/mph and those were the expensive ones. So this guy is one heck of an athlete and that is one heck of a heavy duty machine:

So basically, football players are in really, really good shape, even the big linemen. If ordinary people like us tried to compete with them physically we would get embarrassed. I have a homework assignment for you. Go to your gym or basement, wherever you can get to a treadmill. See what the top speed is on it. Rest your feet on the side of the deck off the belt and turn it up to max speed. Now hold on to the railings and see if you can sprint on it for even a second without falling off.

Now realize that this is likely only 12-15/mph. The slowest times at the 40 are still at least 16/mph. Why bring any of this up? I hear too many people during a game complain about how so and so couldn’t catch that pass, or make that tackle, or do this, or do that. Well, guess what? Neither could you. If guys in the shape they are in make mistakes, let’s not begin to imagine the horror it would be to watch you.

This is college football, they are kids, give them a break.