“We are definitely seeing the push for coaches to reinvent themselves or reinvent the game so it’s safer during practice,” Mic Roessler, Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory head football coach, said.
And that’s how one of the newest inventions in football is one of Brebeuf’s most valuable players. It’s called the MVP, the mobile virtual player. The team has nicknamed the robot, “Rudy.”
“We have always had a little bit of a challenge with our numbers so we had to be creative and think of drills that were safe but yet were teaching a good form of tackling and so this came about,” Roessler explained.
A coach uses a remote control to maneuver the robotics tackling dummy and replicate in-game scenarios during practice drills.“It’s kind of changing the game,” Roessler admitted. “You used to have these big dummies that as you see we’ve got on the field, but this can act as a quarterback in a pass blocking drill for the defensive linemen to rush it and try to chase it down and get ahold of it. So, it’s really endless you just have to be imaginative when coming up wit different situations that would be like a game situation.”
It also limits the amount of hits players are taking, which is in turn reducing common football injuries, like concussions.
“A lot of times concussions don’t happen by somebody tackling somebody,” Roessler explained. “It’s when they hit the ground. Getting hit front on and then getting hit against the groupd going backwards, that’s where I have seen a lot of concussions and by having this, we’ve seen our practice injuries go way down.”
“Usually we kind of slow down so we don’t injure any guys in practice or go full speed in practice,” Brebeuf senior Simon Banks said. “So, I really like Rudy because we can go full speed all the time and it’s kind of fun to hit and have move around so it’s definitely an advantage.”
Having a nearly 200-pound robot that clocks a five second 40 yard dash not only makes practice more innovative, it also makes things more interesting.
“Oh it makes it a lot of fun,” Banks said with a smile. “You definitely have to stay on your toes because Rudy seems to sneak up on guys and we don’t always see him coming.”
“Coaches seem to like it just as much as the kids do,” Banks added with a laugh.
And with a new season on the horizon, maximizing the effectiveness of practices while also protecting the player is top priority.
“I have challenged our coaches to be more creative and to create game-like drills instead of just going through the motions,” Roessler said. “And this allows us to put a live thing or a live body involved in the drill, so it does increase the intensity of the drill and you’re always looking for things like that to make your practice more worthwhile.”
Brebeuf kicks off their season on Friday, September 17 against Bishop Chatard.