Dwight Galt Penn State

Penn State strength coach Dwight Galt spots running back Saquon Barkley as he squats 495 pounds during a football training session, Wednesday, March 2, 2016 in State College, Pa. (Abby Drey/Centre Daily Times via AP) 

With more than 50 of Dwight Galt's former players occupying space on current NFL rosters, the Penn State strength and conditioning coach's resume for preparing his players for the next level speaks for itself.

At Penn State, Mike Gesicki, Saquon Barkley, Miles Sanders and other former Nittany Lions-turned-pros have benefited from his tutelage.

The lull of summer hasn’t slowed Galt or the Nittany Lions, as Galt has maintained intensity through it all while he readies the upcoming crop of Penn State players for the big stage.

“It’s been really productive; they’ve done a really good job,” Galt said of summer workouts. “We started running the conditioning test (in July)… we’ve already had 93 guys pass the conditioning test, which is really good for June and July. We’re pleased with that and think we’re in good shape.”

According to Penn State’s James Franklin, presumed starter at quarterback Sean Clifford this summer has tested at faster times than record-breaking signal caller Trace McSorley. With Penn State being one of college football’s main purveyors of the run-pass option, Galt said there’s an emphasis of not only working out his quarterbacks as passers but also as runners. 

“With the upper body, I’m about done with Sean,” Galt said. “He benches 350 (pounds) and he just got 16 (reps) on 225. He’s a sophomore quarterback, so he has a really good upper-body foundation. A lot of it is just work ethic. He trains incredibly hard. These guys have running back tendencies, so we’ve got to make sure that not only are we keeping a good amount of flexibility and stability in the shoulder for the throwing mechanics, but we also have to make sure that they can take hits.”

Galt will begin his ninth season alongside Penn State’s James Franklin when the Nittany Lions take the field for their season opener against Idaho on Aug. 31. The two were on staff at Vanderbilt, where Galt helped Jordan Matthews and Casey Hayward achieve NFL dreams as second-round draft selections.

Galt’s training impact on Penn State’s current roster garnered lofty praise from Franklin this month when the head coach offered his evaluation.

“Probably the fastest football team that I've been a part of in probably my nine years as a head football coach, so we're excited about having that speed and athleticism on the field,” Franklin said.

Galt and Franklin first connected at Maryland, Galt’s alma mater, and were on staff together for eight seasons. Galt began his Maryland career in 1989 and was promoted to director of strength and conditioning coach in 1993. Galt departed College Park in 2011 to rejoin Franklin at Vanderbilt.

Galt’s results have been evident in more ways than just draft selections. At the 2019 NFL combine, Penn State players produced noteworthy numbers among their position groups.

McSorley’s 4.57 40-yard dash was the fastest among quarterbacks, and defensive tackle Kevin Givens posted a 31-inch vertical. Offensive lineman Connor McGovern did 28 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press while running back Miles Sanders’ vertical jump (36 inches) and broad jump (124 inches) tied for sixth among all running backs.

Galt said events such as the annual Lift for Life and the continued strength and conditioning testing players endure during their Penn State careers prepare them for the intensity and rigors of the combine.

“I teach them how to do the pro shuttle; I teach them if you slip and fall, what do you do,” Galt said. “So there’s just a lot of things that we do throughout the course of their whole career, where it’s just repetition, repetition, repetition… There’s nothing that I’m going to do with them that’s not going to make them better on this field. Because the more important part of their evaluation – for us and for the NFL – is their game film.”

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