The Knights can't hide from the Central Florida heat.
As the heat of summer radiated down on the UCF main campus, most students weren't on campus, but the football team was. Due to an adjustment to the NCAA rules, coaches were able to oversee conditioning — as long a football wasn't present.
Throughout the summer, the team participated in mandatory workouts for about eight hours per week. With a roster full of some of college athletics' elite athletes, how did the coaches challenge them?
The bleachers at Bright House Networks Stadium did the trick.
"When everyone hears that we've got to do stadiums, they know it's about to be the toughest 20 minutes," junior wide receiver Breshad Perriman said. "They're really hard. It's a lot of pushing. It's a lot of sweating, and we all do it as one."
The NCAA changed its rules this year, allowing workouts to be deemed mandatory and allowing for coaches to be present for conditioning and film work. Conditioning was capped at eight hours per week and film for two hours per week.
Coming off the best season in program history, it would be easy for the players to get complacent. Enter: Ed Ellis, director of strength and conditioning at UCF, and his staff.
The strength and conditioning staff is tasked with keeping the roster in tip-top shape, as well pushing them passed mental barriers.
"The workouts are tough," senior linebacker Troy Gray said. "The coaches are pushing you. It's a lot tougher than a lot of people think. College football is a tough game, and they have to push you to get passed your comfort zone."
While he noted that some programs were more involved than others, UCF head coach George O'Leary said he mainly monitored the conditioning, but let the strength and conditioning coaches handle the carrying out of the workouts. O'Leary said at UCF Football Media Day that his team saw numerous records broken in the weight room.
"In the summertime, they've got to get away from the coaches I believe," O'Leary said. "Our weight coaches do a great job with agilities and conditioning. We were there to observe more than anything."
The off-season conditioning program has been lauded by former players who have gone on to the NFL for its difficulty, and for how much easier games are.
The current roster is no different.
UCF proved to be a quality fourth quarter team in 2013, edging out a 7-1 record in games decided by one possession. The fourth quarter success can be traced back to the off-season program.
"Workouts are a lot harder than games," junior defensive end Thomas Niles said. "Everything we do is supposed to be hard. A game is easy compared to the practices we have. The way we work out helps us win games in the fourth quarter."
The UCF off-season program features warmups and stretching in the Nicholson Fieldhouse, and then the team moves to the weight room and lifts for about an hour, before heading back out into the heat for conditioning.
Players such as William Stanback, who gained about 15 pounds in his first full year at UCF, and Perriman, who gained around 10 pounds of muscle between his freshman and sophomore seasons, are evidence that the program works.
"By the end of the summer," senior linebacker Terrance Plummer said, "we make such big gains in the weight room, and it all pays off during the season."