- Some NFL draft hopefuls and current athletes seek out training from Rischad Whitfield.
- Known as “The Footwork King,” he’s spent 10 years training NFL athletes, including some Pro Bowlers.
- NFL hopefuls also hire Whitfield to improve their game ahead of the NFL Draft.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Brandon: Good. Good, let’s work. Right there. Yes, sir, that’s it.
Rischad: The NFL is a precision league.
Brandon: Knock it down, knock it down, knock it down. Right there, good.
Rischad: From high school to college, a lot of guys can get away with just being athletic, just being fast, maybe just being long or stronger than everybody else. Smooth, now. Good, now. Good, now. Get out. One, two. Good. Right there. But the higher level you get, the thinner the margin for error is.
[grunting] [pads thudding]
Brandon: Good work.
Rischad: You know, that’s when precise movements gotta be in place. Now, engage. Good. Release. Good, now. Ball. Good. Hey, my name is Rischad Whitfield, also known as The Footwork King. I train athletes at every position from high school to college and NFL. I specialize in movement efficiency and technique. One of my good friends, Brandon Jordan, he’s a D-line coach.
Brandon: The whole world is your competition. You got to outwork everybody. Most of the guys, they are blessed with athleticism. But you got to outwork the guy in front of you.
Rischad: Well, right now we’re in Houston, Texas. Good, hot Houston, Texas. [laughs] A lot of athletes train out here because of the heat. It might be 100-degree heat, 80% humidity. Feel like you’re training in hell with a sauna. You know what I mean? Now, now, now. Good. Right there.
Brock: I’m Brock Wright, from Cypress, Texas. I played tight end at Notre Dame, and I’m preparing for the draft now.
Brandon: Ready. Shoot! Good right there.
Jayson: Jayson Oweh. I played at Penn State, and I’m entering the NFL draft.
[punching bag thuds]
Brandon: Good. There you go. Day one is more like the evaluation day, so I can see how they move, see what they need to work. I look at their body type, see what type of move that goes with their strength.
Rischad: So, he gonna hesi, and then he gonna power. Whoop, there you go. Whoop, get out. There you go. A lot of them might be fast, a lot of them might be athletic, a lot of them might be strong. I get them out here. Some of them are uncontrolled. They got undisciplined footwork. They’re heavy-footed. They might play too low or play too high. I can fix all that stuff, and I bring all that in, and I clean all this stuff up. So by the time we get ready to go to training camp, it’s go time. Whoop. Whoop, whoop, whoop. Right here. You know what I’m saying? Some of the NFL guys that I worked with in the past and actually currently still do: Odell Beckham, Darius Slay, Eric Ebron, Mecole Hardman, Xavien Howard. A lot of the boys see me two or three times out of the week. So there’s a breakdown, you know. For instance, if I got the receivers Monday, it might be releases. Wednesday might be breakpoint mechanics. Friday, it’s catching drills. But if I didn’t like what I saw on Monday, we’re gonna do it again on Wednesday so I can clean it up. Hey, B, make sure you get your feet inside your body frame. All right? What happened is, they go here, and then tap, tap, tap. And then you start doing all this, you ain’t going nowhere. So take it where? Octagon. Whoo, whoop. Then what? Cone. Oop. Right there. I’ve been working for Brock since he was in middle school. Brock is probably one of the best in-line blocking tight ends in college football. We’re working on primary releases, secondary releases, and getting out of his break. If he’s here, Brock, you gotta go here. I gotta go where? All right? Good. Then stick it. All right? You know what I’m saying? That’s the only way that’s going to work.
Brock: Rischad’s really good at helping me with my fluidity and route running, recognizing coverages, and all sorts of things like that. So getting out here, getting to work on that, and just overall improving my game as a tight end.
Rischad: Good, good, good. Tap, tap. Good. Now. Good. Right there. Good. You know, I think football comes from the ground up. Like I always say, the mechanics behind the movement. Everything you do in NFL, it’s gotta be precise. So I’ll start right here first. Start with feet, and then you start going football IQ. Good. Right there. Ball. Good. You see a lot of release stuff, where I got him dipping his shoulders. I got him releasing off the pad, and then you always see him push to a linebacker.
Brock: Then the eyes go in.
Rischad: Eyes go in. Uh-huh. Boom. There you go. You got to move them with you, yep. You gotta start moving with your eyes. You see a lot of guys kind of moving with their eyes. A lot of demeanor, a lot of head fakes. That stuff plays a huge role in NFL football because the NFL defensive backs are so talented, so smart, their football IQ. It’s not easy for receivers to get off their – to get them guys off their spot. You know? So now you’ve got to kind of move them with their eyes. I’m that safety. I’m here, B. If your eyes are straight, Brock, he probably gonna think – there it is, right there. You know what I’m saying? All right? It’s chess, dog.
Brock: It’s nice because, I mean, when you’re doing practice or weightlifting at Notre Dame, it’s a lot more generalized stuff. So when I come out here, we get to focus on specific things. Just working that craft and working on all the little things you need to get better at.
Rischad: Now, now, now. Good. Right there. Right there, Brock. There you go. Good eyes, baby.
Brock: Today was great. Worked on a bunch of route-running stuff. Now that pro day’s over, it’s all about getting back into football shape. You know, I do weight training every day and then come out here and do this sort of thing and then a little bit of conditioning on top of that. But, you know, ready to get back into the football swing of things.
Rischad: You know, you got some that are gifted. Because when you get to the NFL, you gotta start taking everything you do. Everybody’s good. Everybody’s gifted. But the detail things, the small detail things will separate everybody else.
Brandon: Yes, sir, J. Come on, get that! Good work. Good work, boy. I’ve been working with NFL athletes four years. I think the main thing is body control, for a lot of guys. Learning how to use their body. Because a lot of these guys are big and strong, but they don’t know how to stop and start. They don’t know how to anchor their hips down. Knowing how to bring speed to power, and then just movement, the hand activity. But it’s feet and hands. Feet, hands, and eyes. Attack this shoulder here. Attack this shoulder, now. Boom. Yeah. You know what I’m saying? Jayson, he’s a long guy. And he’s fast. So we will go speed and speed to power. Ready. Stab, stab. Boom. Feel it right there.
Jayson: Yeah, it’s just more specific and more detailed. Like, I know what I got to work on, and, you know, it’s more one-on-one. I’m getting it done.
Brandon: Bah, bah, bah, bah. Chop. Yeah, right there. Chop. Good, nice work. Chop. Good right there.
Jayson: I wish I could get more time. You know, I feel like I’m getting better every session. Hit up BT, man. He the best. Hit him up.
Rischad: The NFL, it’s a quick game. Speed is second to agility, so you gotta be very detailed. Precise movements, and very calculated. It’s like chess, honestly.
Brandon: OK, you got me. When you drop your hands, you gotta keep them up. It was my first day with Demone. First day, I go to fundamentals. I work footwork. Start off with the octagon, working body control. [grunting] So I start with their feet, go on and get their upper body together, and then I put it all together. Get ’em up. Get ’em up. Get ’em up. Get ’em up. Get ’em up. Right there. This is my third year with Roy. We started off with footwork. He a big guy. I’m working coordination with him. We’re getting his hips flexible. We’re working hands. Stab. Boom, boom. Good, right there. But now we’re more advanced. We’re moving a lot. Working his toe turn, working a lot of stab, more specific, running his line, things like that.
Rischad: So we crab walk vertical. Hey, Q, crab, but when you get ready to drop, whoop, rise up. You know what I’m saying? So I can, whoop, whoop, right there. You know what I’m saying? Rise up. Crab. Now! Rise up now! One, two. Good, there it is. I’ve been training Quartney since he was in ninth grade. He’s a wide receiver coming out of Texas A&M. Kid’s a special player. Great hands. Possesses a lot of release quickness. Real sly right runner. Uses a lot of head fakes. Able to sell with his eyes. More so quick than fast, but has running-back ability with the ball in his hands. Split. Now. Good. Whoo, right there, ball. Good. We’re working on accelerating, decelerating with him. He got short-area quickness, but he got to be short-area-quickness controlled. Stick out there to him. Push vertical to him. Inside him now. Good. There you go. Inside, boy! You know, we’re working on releases. Release is what we got to do to get into the development of the route. And a release is just a receiver escaping from a defender. If you don’t see them getting open in the NFL, probably because they can’t release. You know, that’s why I’m like, a lot of the guys that are super-duper fast, it’s not going to be beneficial if you can’t release. Whoa, whoa, whoa. Square up. He ain’t going nowhere. Square up. He ain’t going nowhere. You got to square up with him. Good. Now he here. Now move. There you go. Good.
Quartney: Just from working out with him so long, he kinda got a feel of the things that I need to work on. Different days, we might do releases, routes, straight footwork drills, running-back drills, all that type of stuff.
Rischad: Good. Now. Good, Q. Eyes on. Eyes on. Now. One, two. Good. Right there, ball. Good. See, Quartney’s just fine-tuning. I have him doing a couple of steps at the line, as if there’s a defensive back there. Worked on moving a defensive back with his eyes. Worked on release quickness. Step, step, step. Good. There it is. Quartney’s footwork great. That’s highly expected of Quartney, man. He been out here for too long. It’s second nature to him now.
Quartney: I remember when I first came out here, I was not nowhere as quick as I am now. You know what I’m saying? So we just drilled all of that. Like, we went hard on it. I definitely elevated my game a whole lot, working with him for those years. Everybody good at this level. You know what I’m saying? So you can’t really miss a step as you could in college or high school, because everybody at the top of their game at this level. Doing these things right here just keep me sharp. You know what I’m saying? So it definitely help.
Rischad: Living in Texas, football is king out here. I played football from little league, from middle school, high school. But I battled a bunch of injuries in high school. So I walked on to U of H, but I didn’t get any opportunity to play up there because I got injured again. Being a kinesiology major kind of helped me understand how the body moves, you know. The injuries is what got me to where I’m at now, though. You know, that helped me understand how the body works and then how athletes are supposed to move on the field. So I figured out a lot of different ways to get point A to point B without a lot of strenuous movements. A lot of coaches, they can tell them what to do, but they can’t show them. Man, we visual learners. Right? You can’t tell them what do. Right? They want to see you do it. You got to explain how it benefits them. Right? After you explain, you got to demonstrate. Movement efficiency is key. Usually when somebody gets beat, whether it’s O-line, D-line, or receiver, cornerback, somebody moving better than the other. Somebody hands quicker than the other. NFL, you know, you can’t just get by by athleticism. You got to start getting more detailed, start really honing your craft. For guys that aren’t working with me, you know, they don’t want to be great. I can tell you that right now, just off my energy alone. But once they come out here, they don’t leave. I gotta write me that damn book. Yo, you rise up, you gotta get ready to run, but if you crab walk for a long time, your a– gonna keep dropping. I told Odell, “Rise your a– up,” Odell goes whoop, whoop. Odell stayed up up tall. Jamal ain’t going nowhere. Hey, Jamal, you better make… Jamal think you’re running a post. Hey, Q, you gonna be coming right here. Jamal might be shifting. That joker know his s—.