Jeff Braun embracing final summer as a Mountaineer
Published: Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, July 18, 2012 10:07
Jeff Braun never thought he’d be wishing West Virginia’s offseason workouts would actually go by slower.
After four years of going through strength and conditioning coach Mike Joseph’s summer lifting program, the redshirt senior’s final summer as a Mountaineer feels a little bittersweet.
"There are times when I’m like, ‘I just want this to slow down,’ because it’s my last summer. I’m just trying to enjoy it as much as possible," Braun said. "I know I’m going to miss it when it’s over with.
"To be able to lift with your teammates every summer and to be here when other people are back home, it’s a good experience."
He still remembers what it was like when he was a freshman and how tough it was to make the adjustment to the lifting and conditioning for the first time.
"My freshman year was rough," he said. "I spent all my time in my room when I wasn’t playing football. The amount of stuff and the way we worked out, it was exhausting."
Now, as a senior, he’s starting to see some of this year’s group of freshmen experiencing the same thing he went through.
He admits while it’s tough now, it’ll get easier for them as they continue to make the adjustments and they keep progressing in their careers at West Virginia.
"I see some of them are coming in and they’re tired. They’re not used to coming in at 5:30 in the morning in the summer, but they’ll get used to it," Braun said. "It’s a big adjustment. Some of the changes you make as a person when you’re playing Division I football are tough for your first year and a half, but by the time next season rolls around, I think a lot of them will be adjusted to it and you’ll start to see them be more comfortable and making strides."
It didn’t take long for Braun and the rest of the returning linemen to take the new freshmen in as their own.
There really isn’t much of a choice when they’re all working so close together all summer during these workouts.
"We lift together as an offensive line, so you’re always with each other," Braun said. "When you’re out of football, you try to hang out and have fun.
"This is the only time that we have weekends off, so we like to go have fun and do stuff together to create that bond outside of football."
As one of the seniors and most experienced members of this year’s offensive line, Braun is taking it upon himself to help teach some of the younger players who aren’t quite as experienced as he.
The way he sees it, this won’t just help make WVU a better team this season, it will help keep the team playing at a high level in the future once players like Braun, Joe Madsen and Josh Jenkins leave after this season.
"Their attitudes are good and they’re coming to learn, and they’re following us older guys and trying to do what we do," Braun said. "I want to prepare for the success in the future for this program. I want to get these guys accustomed to how we do things around here so there’s not much of a gap.
"It’s great that, being a fifth-year guy, I can help them along and tell them to stay calm. They’re going to make mistakes, and I think it’s good to be there to help them with that."