michal menet

Brian Menet, left, poses with his son Michal the day Michal announced he would play football for Penn State. 

It’s called a slosh bar (patent not pending).

Penn State offensive tackle Will Fries’ dad invented it, and some of Fries’ O-line mates have spent some of their pandemic-quarantine time staggering beneath it.

It’s a 6-foot length of PVC pipe, perhaps 6 inches around, half-filled with water. The challenge is to lift it over your head, or rest it on your shoulders in a squat position, and try to control the sloshing.

“It’s a really unstable kind of apparatus,’’ center Michal Menet said Wednesday. “It’s great for stabilizing your core. You can do a lot of things with it.’’

Obviously, the pandemic means football position groups can’t push each other in person, in the weight room or on the field.

Which inspires creativity. Both Fries and Menet — the first Penn State players to get the Zoom press conference treatment — have purchased the kind of heavy punching bags boxers use. Menet said that on Tuesday he slammed himself into the bag “for about two hours, after my workout.’’

Menet can lift in the basement of his uncle’s house. He’s using kettlebells and resistance bands and weighted sleds.

Fries’ dad has built a basement gym including the heavy bag, a power rack and pull-up bars.

“You write down the (lifting) umbers every day,’’ Fries said. “You compete with yourself … that inner competition with myself is how I keep gauging my progress on my own.’’

It probably can’t be said too often (although we’ve come close) that the offensive line is the engine of a football team. Six of Penn State’s top seven OLs from a year ago return. The presumptive starting five (from left to right, it's Rasheed Walker, Mike Miranda, Menet, C.J. Thorpe and Fries) were all high-level recruits

The group should be good, but the fact that head coach James Franklin replaced offensive line coach Matt Limegrover with Phil Trautwein indicates it can be better.

Trautwein is just 34. He played at Florida and in the NFL, and came to Penn State from Boston College, where he came under the influence of Dante Scarnecchia, the New England Patriots’ legendary, and recently retired, OL coach.

“From the first second I started talking to (Trautwein), I could already tell that I was going to like him,” Menet said Wednesday.

“(Trautwein) always talks about Coach Scarnecchia and the techniques he teaches,” Fries said. “I think the thing that kind of separates him from other coaches is not only how you’re doing the technique but why you’re doing it.’’

The technique is going to be different, apparently. The key phrase is “playing through your legs.’’

“It means having a good base, having your knees bent, allowing all your lower body power to connect to your upper body,” Menet said.

It all sounds good. Turning theory into practice will have to wait, but that’s essentially true for everybody in college football. Maybe Clemson and Ohio State and Alabama have slosh bars, or something like them. Or something better.

Fries doubts it.

“When we get back,’’ he said, “we’re going to have an advantage over everyone.’’

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