Notes on the speed series that concluded on Thursday:
Mike Golden knows speed. However, you probably don't know Mike Golden. He is East Carolina's strength coach which in the college football world doesn't open many doors.
Golden quietly tutored one of the fastest players in the country the past three years. Chris Johnson led the country in all-purpose yardage last season, including a bowl record 408 yards in the Hawaii Bowl. Johnson was taken last month in the first round of the NFL draft by the Tennessee Titans.
"When we first got here, it was his sophomore year and he ran a 4.33 and (vertical jumped) 38 inches," Golden said. "When we got him he was down to 4.24 and jumped 43 1/2 inches."
Golden is not the only "speed" guy across the nation. Miami set the standard with speed coach Andrew Swayze. Ohio State has been using former Olympic sprinter Butch Reynolds. Every time you hear the designation "speed coach" it raises the age old question: Is it possible to teach speed. Swayze has helped develop a load of first-round draft choices. Reynolds says it's a combination of speed plus balance. Ohio State has been criticized for being slow when it comes to BCS title games.
Two things: Ohio State was good enough to get to the BCS title game and it hurts when your fastest player goes down. The Bucks lost Ted Ginn Jr. early in the 2007 BCS title game against Florida. It was downhill from there.
"A lot of people miss the fact that you've got to be strong to be fast," Golden said. "All they're worried about is stride length and stride frequency. We teach them how to run. We have a speed school. We show them from ground zero."
Golden says he "scours different things" -- DVDs, journals, articles -- for speed technique.
"I'm a good thief," he said.
Pirates coach Skip Holtz first hired Golden in 1998 at Connecticut, and then hired him away from South Carolina after coming to East Carolina in December 2004. While it's hard to quantify the results of speed, there is a basic indicator: Holtz' record the past two seasons (15-11) is the best for East Carolina since 1999-2000.
"Our first year and a half here we couldn't work on speed because we weren't strong enough," he said. "We would have blown hamstrings all over the place."
Now he's crediting some of that speed training for the Pirates' Hawaii Bowl win over Boise State.
"When we went to that first bowl game (in 2006) we fell flat on our face," Golden said of a 24-7 loss to South Florida in the Papajohns.com Bowl. "It took us 18 hours to get to Hawaii, then we ran their guts off. We let them know we're on a business trip. That got their attention real quick. They thought we were going right to the hotel."
There are times Golden can determine in warm-ups if an opponent does speed work.
"I can tell how guys bend how fluid guys move," he said. "It's definitely an edge. Our kids will come to the sideline and say, 'These guys can't run.'
No one player will take Johnson's place this season. Junior running back J.R. Rogers will be part of a committee. He is the fastest Pirate at 4.32. Defensive end C.J. Wilson (6-foot-4, 271) ran a 4.55 at the program's recent NFL timing day. That would have been one of the fastest times at February's NFL combine.
• We only included 20 players on the fastest list on Tuesday. Here are a few others to consider (alphabetical):
Cam Baker, WR, Memphis, 4.35 40
Tim Brown, WR, Rutgers, 4.25
Rashard Carmichael, CB, Virginia Tech, 4.38
Noel Devine, RB, West Virginia, 4.30
Dorin Dickerson, TE, Pittsburgh, 4.38
Brandon Dillard, WR, Virginia Tech, 4.28
Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland, 4.23
Correy Earls, WR, Georgia Tech, 4.36
Patrick George, CB, Northern Illinois, 10.4 100 (high school)
Dante Lamar, DB, Memphis, 4.35
Emani Lee-Odai, WR, Maryland, 4.29
Scott Long, WR, Louisville, 4.24
Wopamo Osaisai, CB, Stanford, 10.39 100
Jock Sanders, WR, West Virginia, 4.33
Carlos Singleton, WR, Memphis, 4.37
Woodney Turenne, CB, Louisville, 4.33
Pat White, QB, West Virginia, 4.45