Video: Terrance Plummer trains for UCF Pro Day, NFL Draft Jazmyne Hankerson, Central Florida Future
Under the blazing Orlando sun, at the base of a steep hill at Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports stands a group of about 15 athletically-built men. Green cones are scattered in various formations across the neatly-manicured hill.
One by one the men attacked the hill, running, cutting, spinning — drenched in sweat.
"The hill represents life. Everything is an upward challenge, and it's hard to fight against it, and if you can get to the top of it you're going to achieve things you never thought you could," former UCF linebacker, Terrance Plummer said. "We do everything on the hill. If you can cut and be agile on a hill, imagine what you can on flat ground."
Plummer is in the final preparations for the biggest job interview of his life — UCF's annual pro day. Representatives from all 32 NFL teams will likely be in attendance to observe UCF's draft hopefuls performing, hoping for a chance to reach their NFL dreams. The NFL Draft takes place April 30 to May 2, and as many as five former Knights could hear their names called during the draft.
Soon after UCF's season ended Dec. 26, Plummer, UCF's leading tackler in 2014, entered Tom Shaw's Performance Training Center, housed at ESPN Wide World of Sports, to prepare for a chance in the professional ranks. One look at Plummer and the progress is evident. He has slimmed 5 percent in body fat and shed about 14 pounds in the process. Now leaner, he hopes it will help perform better in pass coverage.
"We try to identify specifically what each athlete needs to improve," director of strength training Brian Stamper said. "Whether that is hip flexibility, explosive power, if they have really bad running form we try to clean that up a little bit."
For around five days per week over the course of about three months, Plummer has entrusted Shaw with his training. Shaw's credentials speak for themselves, however. According to his website, he has trained 10 Super Bowl MVPs, 142 first-round draft picks and nine No. 1 overall picks.
In the midst of his training, Plummer was also given travel opportunities. In January, he was one of the few players who had the opportunity to participate in both the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl and the Reese's Senior Bowl to showcase himself in front of professional scouts and coaches.
Through it all, the training has proven to be demanding, but it also has shown results. Typically, Plummer tries to arrive between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. to the facility. First is a warm-up, then a workout, followed by a group abs session with the other athletes who Shaw trains. Next comes a running circuit on the hill.
Surrounded by the current professionals — Tampa Bay's Bobby Rainey, Houston's Charles James and Cincinnati's Marquis Flowers among them — Shaw leads the players of all shapes and sizes through a challenging workout. Some, like Rainey, wear a mask that restricts breathing.
"I'm out here with these professional guys, and they have millions of dollars and have the contracts and the experience, but yet they still come out here — the place they trained in college — and still train to get better," Plummer said. "That just makes me realize how far I need to go and the journey I want to be on. I want to be just like those guys."
Although perhaps where he is different than all of the other athletes is that Plummer leaves in the afternoon to head back to UCF where he still attends classes. As a senior, finishing up his Exercise Science degree, he was on pace to graduate in four years, but he may have to push it back because NFL mini-camp.
"It's tough. Just taking a ride every day by myself can get tiring," Plummer said. "I think that's the biggest thing for me, graduating. That's what you come to college for, to graduate and further your career, and I'm doing both."
But the end is in sight. In just five days, Plummer and his former teammates will take the field at the Nicholson Fieldhouse for likely the last time, with perhaps the most on the line.
"I feel really good, I think my preparation has been really good. I'm trying to be focused. I'm not trying to make the moment bigger than it is," Plummer said. "I plan on opening some eyes."
Ryan Gillespie is the Editor-in-Chief at the Central Florida Future. Follow him on Twitter at @rgillespiecff or email him at RyanG@CentralFloridaFuture.com.